Supraventricular Tachycardia is often abbreviated to SVT. My little boy has this condition and it’s not too well known. This blog post is all about raising awareness around the condition. I will tell you a little bit about the condition and about my experience.

SVT Supraventricular Tachycardia is where an electrical signal in the heart misfires and tells the heart to beat too quickly. As a result the person experiencing SVT can suddenly feel unwell, their breathing may become quicker, they might get chest pains and usually they are very tired after an episode. Here is a link to the NHS website with more information.

My experience

Early in my pregnancy I was told I had PAAP-A. I was informed there was nothing to worry about but it did mean that my placenta had a protein deficiency so for the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy I would get regularly scanned to check my baby’s growth. As the midwife didn’t seem worried and I was assured everything was routine I didn’t give it much more thought.

Smiling couple with baby scan photos. Photography credit: Sarah Sharp
Smiling couple with baby scan photos. Photography credit: Sarah Sharp

My 20 week scan showed everything to be normal and we found out that we were expecting a little boy. I was so excited. I was having a rough pregnancy, the nausea was unrelenting and the pain in my hips and lower back was so uncomfortable. At 23 weeks my GP signed me off work and I started treatment to try and relieve some of my pain. I was really looking forward to my 30 week scan to see my little boy again.

We arrived at the hospital and were unable to find parking. I initially went in on my own expecting my husband to come in shortly after. When he didn’t I explained the parking situation to the sonographer, she didn’t seem surprised and started the scan. She seemed to change her mind though and said to call my husband and tell him to park in the 10 minute bay.

My husband arrived

He wasn’t too keen on parking in the emergency bay but did. As soon as he was in the room we were given the devastating news that our son had a build-up of fluid on his body that shouldn’t be there and that his heart was beating too quickly. These condition we later found out were called Hydrops Fetalis (you can read more on my experience with this condition by clicking here) and Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT).

The scan had been sent to doctors to review and the sonographer was going to go and see what they thought the best course of action was. The decision was that if our son had any chance of survival then he needed to be delivered now by emergency c-section. His chance of surviving delivery was 20% and he had a 10% chance of surviving beyond delivery. 2 hours and 2 minutes after my appointment time my son was born. The registrar later commented that in all her time as a registrar she had never seen a heart rate recorded as high as my son’s. His heart was beating at 320 beats per minute. That’s just over 5 beats per second!

A premature baby in his incubator
My little boy in his incubator

The first month

For the first 4 weeks he was put on a number of medications and combination of medications. Nothing seemed to be working. He was regularly in SVT having very short periods of a regular rhythm. The concern was that his heart would go into failure after working so hard. In fact it did a few times and he needed chest compressions to bring him back. Then he went into SVT for 24 solid hours.

The decision was made that he needed to go to a more specialist hospital. This had been avoided so far as the doctors didn’t think my little boy was stable enough to move. Now he needed to be moved so he could be stabalised. Within 12 hours of being on a specialist unit they had the SVT under control!

For the rest of his neonatal stay he was SVT episode free. In fact his next episode was when he was 11 months old. The symptoms presented like his Chronic Lung Disease – laboured breathing, being sick and generally being off colour. I rushed him to the children’s ward and as soon as he was hooked up to monitors it showed his heart was in SVT. The doctor saw him straight away and submerging my son’s face in ice worked (this method had stopped working on the NICU). He stayed in for the day but after no more episodes he was discharged.

The next episodes

18 days later my little boy was admitted with bronchiolitis. 2 days later he had another SVT episode and again the ice worked to bring him out of the episode. The doctors decided that the nebulisers used to treat the bronchiolitis could have contributed to the episode. After this as a precautionary measure they changed the type of nebuliser and gave them less frequently.

Baby in a hospital cot with oxygen prongs on
My baby in a hospital cot with oxygen prongs on

Then we went 18 months episode free! This was amazing and the cardiologists were talking about taking him off of his medication. We weaned him off a few days before his appointment. However while my son was in the care of his childminder he had a suspected episode. By the time he was back with me the episode had passed and my little boy who is usually a bundle of energy was exhausted.

At the cardiology appointment it was decided to keep him on the medication for another 6 months and then review again. We are hoping that this is a condition he will grow out of. To look at my little boy you would never know he has any underlying health conditions. He is happy and so energetic and an absolute joy!