Well life has a funny way of putting things into perspective for us sometimes. Imagine being Charlie McAvoy of the Bruins and recently being diagnosed with a heart condition called SVT. McAvoy is young, in great shape, and playing defense for one of the storied franchises in the NHL. Then pow.

In this article, I will tell fans of Bruin Nation what exactly is SVT. Also, I will tell you all about how it is treated and what is the prognosis for McAvoy and his hockey career.

(Via www.thehockeynews.com)

What Exactly is SVT?

The heart condition SVT, or supraventricular tachycardia, is where a person’s normal heart rate is accelerated and maintained at this level. An average person has a resting heart rate of about eighty beats per minute, whereas a person with SVT would have a resting rate of over one hundred. In many cases this is not a condition that can be easily detected. The signs and symptoms for it are pretty average for just not feeling well. Typically, a person suffering from SVT would experience: light-headedness, dizziness, fatigue, and general malaise. I believe in the case of the Bruins’ McAvoy, he was just a really lucky soul to find this when he did.

In more severe cases, it is possible for a person’s heart to stop beating temporarily and cause something called syncope. With the case of syncope a person would basically pass out and when they awake they would be quite disoriented. This would be a little bit like the case of the Stars’ Rich Peverley years ago, which turned out to be a little more serious.

SVT can be caused by a number of issues that are both in and out of the person’s control. Things such as heart disease, thyroid disorders, blood clots, and hardening of the arteries are some of the more serious causes of SVT. There are other causes such as drug abuse, caffeine intake, and smoking that can be controlled by the person.

How is it Detected?

As with most heart conditions, the person is usually given an ECG (electrocardiogram) to detect what the issue may be. In the case of SVT, the heart rate would be generally normal heart rhythm.  For short periods of time during the testing, the person’s heart rate would spike to the SVT level even without any change in activity. The amount of times that the SVT is detected and the severity of the spike can figure in the treatment.

Other methods of detection of SVT can include: an ultrasound, a stress test, and dye tests as well. It just depends on the doctors and there is no test that is superior but the ECG is definitely the most commonly used.

Treatment of SVT

Once the SVT is actually detected in a person like McAvoy, it is key to figure out if there has been damage suffered. Fortunately in the case of the Bruins’ D man, he has many factors working in his favour. McAvoy is young, in great shape, and had no previous history of any heart related issues. All of these things are nothing but bonuses for the young Bruins’ D man and his long-term future.

The main treatment after verifying the diagnosis of SVT is to make sure that the condition does not flare up. As serious as this condition can be in some people, I expect McAvoy to live a long healthy life. Detection in the early stages and not requiring any cardiac operative procedures will mean that McAvoy will be just fine.

The Bruins’ young defenseman will likely just have to take a couple of medications to control this condition. Most patients would take a medication called a beta-blocker to control heart rate and another to manage heart rhythm. All things considered, things will be just fine for the Bruins’ (and possibly the NHL’s) rookie of the year. Let’s bring that Cup home to where it belongs.


Cover image courtesy of ESPN.