AF Association
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Can anyone tell me what the difference is between super ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation? ???

I have S.V.T is it any different from AF?

I have researched both , they seem to have same symptoms, irregular rapid heart beat, missing beats, fatigue & shortness of breath ect & both affect the top chambers of the heart . is it the same condition but with a different name?

13 Replies

Hi dear

Sorry to hear there is someone else suffering the same as I do

I had ablation to treat AF but after ablation I started to have what they call SVT frequent attacks

I'm not sure about the difference since both are from the atria

As you said they have the same symptoms but as I understood they are different and the SVT are stable rhythm but fast

But doctors offered me the same treatment , another ablation again and beta blocker with warfarin till the second ablation

I'm on sotalol right now which make it less frequent

Hope you will feel better soon


Not the same at all I'm afraid. Atrial fibrillation is where the left atria rather than contracting and pumping in a regular way writhes wildly in a disorganised way like a bag of worms. This produces no regular beat . SVT is where the ventricle is beating rapidly caused by impulses coming down from the atria hence super (above) ventricular tachycardia ( fast beating ventricle. ) Ventricular tachycardia (without the super) on the other hand is very serious as this is usually what happens during a heart attack I understand as the ventricle itself is beating out of control.

Any arrhythmia has the potential to produce symptoms as you suggest but they are in fact different conditions.

Usual proviso-- no medical training just a lot of experience of AF and allied subjects.



Thank you!, Bob D. I, too, have been researching the differences and have never found any clear explanation. You have given me the information I have spent so much time trying to find. It's a relief for me. Thank you, again



Thank you BobD I never seem to get a straight or understandable answer to my questions from gp or cardiologist and not knowing or understanding doesn't help with my anxiety :)


hi claire . think im in the same place as you . had an ablation for af .and after a few bad attacks ive now got svt and im waiting for another ablation. im off most of the meds tho. just on small dose of bisop daily


a fib is a type of SVT. Supra ( above the venticle) is where both arrhythmias occur. The difference is that AF is IRREGULAR and rapid and other SVTs are just rapid. SVT tends to be less of a problem but is still sometimes treated with an ablation.


AF does not always mean a rapid heatbeat. I have PAF and when I have an episode which lasts up to 5 hours my heart is very irregular but no more rapid than 80bpm.

1 like

Yes, irregular is the key word.


I had an ECG when in AF once - I counted my pulse at around 80-90 , the ECG showed 116, the Doc said many irregular beats are faint, so don't make the brachial (wrist) pulse, so you heart could be going faster than you think, so long as you're not having palpitations, when you can hear your heart pounding in your ears.

A bit like gremlins in your chest, doing a Ginger Baker on your breastbone, when you're having a particularly bad one! Bill



I never knew that about the beats not showing on a wrist monitor. That's very important information. Especially since I use the wrist monitor to decide if I should go the the emergency room or not. Thank you, so much, for posting that!

Also, it explains why my heart beats are always higher when I do go to the ER than what I may just have seen on my wrist monitor a few minutes just before I enter the ER. After taking my pulse in the parking lot of the hospital.

(yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I drive myself to the ER and have turned around and gone back home after getting a lowered heart rate after I had used my wrist monitor in the parking lot).

I usually end up going back to the ER a day later because it has gotten worse, not better.

I just get so exhausted, discouraged, and depressed having to go to the ER so often.


hey lofty i have similar thing and wondering how has yours progressed? I'm trying really hard to recover from this


Hi courtv27 luckely I have not had an episode for two years. I had my first attack 15 years ago which was very frightening as I did not know what was happening, I thought I was having a heart attack. Over the years I have had about 25 episodes which last about 5 hours after taking flecanide and bisoprolol as a pill in pocket. My electrophysiologist Prof. Richard Schilling says that as I get older the frequency of episodes will shorten although the fact that I have not had one for two years (I'm tempting fate now) is positive. I am keeping well away from my triggers namely, excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine and stress.


Great reply, thanks Bob. Friends and family are always asking me "what is you've actually got?" I can now tell them with great authority!


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