SVT stands for super-ventricular tachycardia and it’s a condition where your heart beats over 100 bpm and these episodes can happen randomly.
My first episode happened after my third round of RCHOP chemotherapy. I was laying in bed trying to get off to sleep, and suddenly I felt my heart pounding out of my chest, like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I thought to myself, maybe I’m just having an anxiety attack so I left it for 10 minutes. That’s when I started feeling light-headed, so I woke my mum up and got her to call an ambulance. I was terrified, I kept thinking to myself, “great, I’ve got cancer and now my heart is playing up.” Just my luck.
These two paramedics came to my house within 2 minutes, and asked me a bunch of questions: “do you feel any pain? When did this start? What were you doing when this started?” I answered them as quickly as possible as they took an ECG. My heart beat was 250 bpm. Now usually, people never get this high with their heartbeat but of course I did. I was feeling more light-headed as the minutes went by, and was starting to feel sweaty from sheer panic.
More paramedics came to the door and escorted me out to the ambulance, I remember feeling so dizzy at this point, I kept telling the paramedic who was holding me, “I’m going to pass out.” Over and over again. But he was so lovely, and replied “don’t worry, I’ve got you if you do.” And then I stepped into the ambulance, and that’s when my body decided it’s time to black out now, right on the steps, typical. I woke up in a stretcher and the first thing I did was check I have my phone on me, priorities right… but I woke up from passing out, and my pulse was back to normal… Finally, they took me to A&E and my mum followed in her car.
So after numerous tests and staying the night in hospital. They contacted my cancer doctor and he said that it could’ve been caused by one of the drugs in the chemotherapy as one of them damages the heart. Fantastic. Now I’m on beta blockers for life, however I was offered a surgery to fix the issue as they can see which part of the heart it’s coming from just by looking at my ECG, but I might not have that just yet…
SVT is not life threatening, it’s just a pain in the arse to deal with.
Side-note: since having cancer, my heart rate has always been within the 100’s because the tumour was pushing against my heart. But this was an actual episode of SVT. And basically, it’s such a pointless condition.
One of the cardiac doctors tried to explain what actually happens when SVT is triggered… there’s a rhythm that your heart beat always follows, and when it’s disrupted it follows the ‘back up rhythm’ which causes your heart to beat over 100 bpm. It just needs something to trigger it back to the normal rhythm.