Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a heart condition that causes the heart to beat faster for a reason other than physical exertion or illness. While many people with the condition are able to lead normal lives with little or no symptoms, some people experience severe symptoms that limit their ability to work or care for themselves. These individuals have a long-term disability that may make them completely unable to work.
When a person is unable to work due to disability, the individual may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. These benefits are intended to help people pay for their necessities when they are unable to earn an income. While the insurance program is managed by the federal government through the Social Security Administration (SSA), it is funded by paycheck deductions. People who have worked throughout their lives have paid into SSDI, and applying for benefits allows disabled individuals to access the insurance benefits that they have accrued over time.
What Is Supraventricular Tachycardia?
SVT is a disorder that occurs when the electrical impulse in a person’s heart causes it to beat much faster than normal when they are not stressed, ill, or exerting themselves physically. The heart beats at a rate of 100 to 300 times per minute when this condition is active. Episodes can end without medical intervention, but some people require treatment to get the heart to beat at a normal rate again.
People who take medications with stimulants in them are more likely to develop SVT. Treatment options include medication and vagal maneuvers. Vagal maneuvers, such as intentionally gagging or coughing, may help to slow the heartbeat. Ongoing SVT episodes typically require the sufferer to take medication on a daily basis, and some sufferers must undergo a procedure called catheter ablation to lessen the severity and frequency of episodes.
Many people who suffer from supraventricular tachycardia are unaware that they have the condition because of a lack of symptoms. Symptoms are usually present when SVT episodes are frequent and ongoing. Episodes can also last a long time, and a sustained rapid heartbeat can cause more symptoms to occur.
These symptoms may include:
- Heart palpitations
- A pounding pulse
People who have a more severe and ongoing form of supraventricular tachycardia may experience:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in the throat
- Sweating during episodes
Causes of Supraventricular Tachycardia
While SVT may be caused by thyroid disease, lung disease, or another heart condition, other factors can contribute to this condition as well. Other SVT causes can include:
- Asthma medications
- Cold and allergy medications
- Overconsumption of alcohol
- Drug use
Supraventricular tachycardia may also be related to physical exertion, stress, or lack of sleep. Pregnancy can also cause an episode of SVT.
Types of SVT
There are several types of SVT. While the symptoms for each are typically the same, the treatment may be different based on the type of SVT. These are some of the most common forms:
- Atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia (AVNRT): This is the most common type of SVT. It occurs in the upper chamber of the heart and is caused by an additional connection within or close to the atrioventricular node. Any added stress, exertion, or other changes to the nervous system can set off an episode.
- Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT): This type of SVT causes the heart to beat rapidly in a particular part of the heart — specifically, between the atrium and ventricles. An episode can begin without warning and end just as abruptly. Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia occurs when there is an issue with the atrioventricular node. This could be caused by a number of factors, but may be exacerbated by smoking, alcohol, caffeine, or drug use.
- Sinus tachycardia: This type of supraventricular tachycardia is the rarest form of the condition. While the other types of SVT are typically due to an abnormal condition within the electrical system of the heart, people with sinus tachycardia do not have an obvious heart condition. Typically, an outside factor — such as pain, excessive exercise, hyperthyroidism, or a fever — can affect the sinoatrial node of the heart, which may cause an episode.
For some, treatment may not be necessary if SVT symptoms present themselves just once or infrequently. However, if episodes persist, treatment may be required. SVT treatment varies from person to person and may include:
- Catheter ablation: This procedure eliminates the part of the heart that is causing the SVT episodes by using a catheter. This treatment is the suggested course of action for those who have frequent episodes.
- Medication: Medicine is typically prescribed when people experience mild to moderate episodes. Adenosine for SVT may be given by injection if someone is admitted to the hospital after having an episode, but beta blockers may be a suitable treatment if episodes are infrequent.
- Vagal maneuvers: There are certain maneuvers that can be performed to quickly relieve an SVT episode. These maneuvers typically include stimulating specific parts of the body.
- Lifestyle changes: Because some lifestyle choices, like smoking, stress, and alcohol consumption, can cause SVT, doctors may suggest lifestyle changes as a course of treatment.
Because treatment correlates with the specific type of SVT that a person has, it is best to consult a doctor to determine the most effective course of action.
Can You Get Disability Benefits for SVT?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a listing of recognized disabilities, and SVT is covered under the Adult – Cardiovascular listing. To qualify for SSDI benefits relating to SVT heart conditions, applicants must prove that they meet the SSA’s eligibility requirements.
The first step in the application process is getting diagnosed with a disability. Applicants must seek treatment from a licensed medical professional on a regular basis, and it is essential for this medical provider to record the patient’s symptoms, treatment methods, and complications.
SVT can be temporary in nature, and people who only have the condition for a short period of time are not eligible for SSDI benefits. Because of this requirement, it is necessary for an ongoing medical record to be established. This medical record can provide evidence that the sufferer is expected to experience symptoms of SVT for at least one year.
In addition to these basic requirements, people who have disabilities related to the heart are usually required to undergo cardiovascular tests. These tests may include an exercise tolerance test and various medical imaging tests. While these tests may be completed as part of the diagnostic and treatment process, there are times when the SSA may order that an individual take these tests to better prove that a disability makes it impossible for them to work.