Supraventricular tachycardia in children: clinical features, response to treatment, and long-term follow-up in 217 patients

J Pediatr. 1981 Jun;98(6):875-82. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(81)80578-1.


We reviewed the records of 217 children whose first episode of supraventricular tachycardia occurred before 18 years (median age 24 months). There were 112 males and 105 females. Of the 49 with congenital heart disease, SVT began before any operation in 26 and greater than 2 weeks postoperatively in 23. Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome was present on surface ECG in 47/217 (22%). Congestive heart failure accompanied the first episode of SVT in 38% of the patients who were 4 months of age or younger, and in only 19% of those over 4 months (P less than 0.001). Treatment was successful in stopping SVT within 48 hours in 90/142 (63%). Successful short-term treatment included digoxin 57/184 (68%), cardioversion 12/20 (60%), vagal maneuvers 12/19 (63%), phenylephrine 3/9, and overdrive pacing 4/5. SVT recurred at least once in 83% of all patients. On follow-up (mean 4.6 years), episodes of SVT were still present in 56%. Three patients died--two from incessant SVT and one from a CVA after VSD repair. We conclude that long-term status was difficult to predict, but SVT was present in fewer patients whose age at onset was less than 4 months and in those with unoperated CHD. Early recurrence was not a poor prognostic sign. We recommended treatment for at least one year in all patients with SVT, whether or not the first episode terminates spontaneously.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Digoxin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Failure / complications
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Tachycardia / drug therapy*
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome / complications


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Digoxin