Tara from Spring, TX asks: " I have SVT. What kind of pre-workout can I take to workout that won't affect my condition?
That's a great question Tara. Before specifically answering your question, I'd like to give our readers a little background about SVT so we can together understand what type of pre-workout supplement will work best for you and other that may be experiencing similar symptoms.
What is SVT?
Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a condition where your heart beats very fast for a reason other than exercise, high fever, or stress. For most people who have SVT, the heart still works normally to pump blood through the body.
During an episode of SVT, the heart's electrical system doesn't properly, causing the heart to beat very fast. The heart beats at least 100 beats a minute and may reach 300 beats a minute. After treatment or on its own, the heart usually returns to a normal rate of 60 to 100 beats a minute.
SVT may start and end quickly, and you may not have symptoms. SVT becomes a problem when it happens often, lasts a long time, or causes symptoms.
Causes of SVT
Although SVT episodes can occur in anyone, there are certain factors that may increase an individual’s risk. Examples of these risk factors include:
• Excessive caffeine or alcohol use
• History of tobacco use
• Illicit drug use
• Extreme psychological stress and anxiety
• Low potassium and magnesium levels
• Family history of tachycardia
• Structural abnormalities of the heart
• Adverse reactions from certain pharmacologic agents (ie, antihistamines, theophylline, cough and cold preparations, appetite suppressants )
• Certain medical conditions (eg, cardiovascular disease, long-term respiratory disease, diabetes, anemia, cancer)
When to Seek Medical Care for SVT
SVT is generally not life threatening unless individuals have other heart disorders. Call a health care professional if any of the following conditions occur:
- The episode of rapid heartbeat or palpitations is the first, and the symptoms last longer than a few seconds to a few minutes.
- The person has had previous episodes of SVT, and the current episode does not go away with vagal maneuvers (coughing, deep breathing, or muscle tensing described below).
The person with the symptoms should not drive themselves to the hospital. Call 911 for emergency help if needed. The following conditions or symptoms warrant a visit to the nearest hospital emergency department:
- Rapid heartbeat and feel dizzy or faint
- Rapid heartbeat with chest pain
- Feel short of breath with rapid heartbeat
Self-care, Supplement and Exercise Considerations for Individuals with SVT
When a person first develops symptoms of SVT, they can attempt the following simple maneuvers, called vagal maneuvers (stimulates vagal nerve to slow the heart rate), to assist the body in slowing the heart rate:
- Hold the breath for about 20-60 seconds
- Quickly dip the entire face in cold water (sink or large open container)
- Cough multiple times
- Tense the stomach muscles as if the patient was bearing down to have a bowel movement
If these vagal maneuvers do not work, lie down and relax. Take some slow, deep breaths. Often, the heart will slow by itself.
If the symptoms continue, get immediate transport to a hospital. If a person has frequent episodes of rapid heartbeat, they should be evaluated by a medical professional even if the episodes spontaneously resolve.
The following lifestyle choices may help many people prevent PSVT from occurring and to monitor their body responses.
- Learn how to count the pulse (heartbeat). Then determine if the pulse is regular or irregular. People should ask a health care professional or nurse to teach them how to count the pulse on themselves and other people. In adults, the pulse should be between 50-100 per minute and regular.
- Check with a health care professional before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) cough, cold, or pain medicines, especially if the person has hypertension or has had episodes of SVT.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise makes the heart stronger and more efficient and lowers the blood pressure and heart rate.
- Learn to relax to control stress. Some relaxation techniques include muscle relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, and biofeedback.
- Control other illnesses by complying with the doctor's recommendations for medications and lifestyle changes.
- Quit smoking, or better, never start! Avoid second-hand smoke from others.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine intake because it often is a stimulation source for SVT.
- Avoid illicit drug use. Most (for example, cocaine, amphetamines) stimulate the heart.
- Weight control and, for many, weight reduction is helpful. Obesity makes the heart work much harder.
- Work toward a lifestyle change. Eat a diet low in fat, cholesterol, and salt; eat lots of vegetables.
- Cut back on excessive alcohol use (moderate use is considered 1-2 drinks per day, depending on the weight and sex of the person).
Specific Non-Stimulant Pre-Workout Recommendations
Now that we know more about what's SVT, what causes it, and different lifestyle changes one can make to manage symptoms, we can see discuss what type of ingredients to look for when selecting a pre-workout.
It should go without saying that someone that has SVT should not be consuming stimulants of any kind. Stimulants, especially caffeine, will only exacerbate the conditions of SVT, and having an episode can potentially keep you out to the gym, and keep you from reaching your goals.
Other stimulants you should avoid commonly found in pre-workouts include the following:
- Or any supplement that has a category on the label that says "stimulant" or "thermogenic"
On the other hand, here's a list of good non-stimulant ingredients you should look for in a pre-workout broken down into different categories based on a person's individual workout goals:
Ingredients for Strength and Power
- Creatine (Any form)
Ingredients for Muscle Growth & Fuel
- Branch Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs)
- High Glycemic Carbs (dextrose, waxy maize, etc)
- Bio-Active Peptides
- HICA/Leucic Acid
Ingredients for Muscle Pumps
Ingredients for Recovery
Ingredients for Endurance
- Beta alanine
I hope this gives you guys a comprehensive background of what is SVT, its causes, possible lifestyle modifications for treatment, and what to look for in a pre-workout to optimize fitness results.
Until next time - ENVISION, BELIEVE, EXECUTE and SUCCEED
To your health!
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