What Is Ventricular
tachycardia is a very fast heart rhythm that begins in the ventricles. The
ventricles are the two lower chambers of the heart. They fill with blood from
the atria, or top chambers of the heart, and send it to the rest of the body. Ventricular
tachycardia is a pulse of more than 100 beats per minute with at least three
irregular heartbeats in a row. It is caused by a malfunction in the heart’s electrical
Your heart rate is controlled
impulses that trigger each contraction and determine the rhythm of the heart. When this process is disrupted and the electrical
signals are sent too quickly, ventricular tachycardia can occur. The rapid
heartbeat doesn’t give the ventricles enough to time to fill with blood before
the heart contracts. As a result, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the
rest of the body.
tachycardia may only last for a few seconds or for much longer. It doesn’t
always cause symptoms, but when symptoms do occur, they may include
lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. The condition most commonly affects
people who have heart disorders, such as coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy.
may eventually lead to ventricular fibrillation, which is characterized by a
rapid, inadequate heart rhythm. In this condition, the heartbeat is so fast and
irregular that it causes the heart to stop working. To prevent this
complication from occurring, it’s important to get immediate treatment for
What Are the Symptoms of
ventricular tachycardia include:
What Causes Ventricular
cause of ventricular tachycardia isn’t always known. In most cases, however, it
is triggered by another heart condition.
of ventricular tachycardia include:
which weakens the heart muscle
heart disease, which can be the result of heart damage from a previous heart
heart disease, which is caused by lack of blood flow to the heart
- heart failure, which is characterized by the
heart’s inability to pump an adequate amount of blood
forms of ventricular tachycardia are inherited, which means they’re passed down
from a parent to a child. These include:
polymorphic ventricular tachycardia
right ventricular dysplasia
cases, ventricular tachycardia can be caused by certain medications, excessive
caffeine or alcohol consumption, and intense exercise.
Classification of Ventricular
of ventricular tachycardia is based on:
or the length of the episode
or the heartbeat pattern
effect, or the effect on the heart’s ability to pump blood
The types of
ventricular tachycardia are as follows:
which stops spontaneously without causing problems with blood flow
which lasts longer than 30 seconds and causes decreased blood flow
in which each heartbeat resembles the next one
in which heartbeats vary
Who Is at Risk for
You may be
more at risk for ventricular tachycardia if you:
an older adult
a heart condition
had a previous heart attack
a family history of ventricular tachycardia
will make a diagnosis by performing a physical exam and running certain tests.
During the exam, your doctor will listen to your heart and ask you about your
symptoms. They’ll also check your pulse and blood pressure.
ventricular tachycardia is suspected, your doctor will order certain tests.
These may include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test measures the
electrical activity of the heart. It records a picture of the heart’s
electrical activity, allowing doctors to spot abnormalities.
MRI (CMRI): This imaging test uses strong magnets and radio waves to produce
clear, cross-sectional images of the heart. This gives doctors the ability to
look at the heart in more detail.
echocardiography: In this procedure, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the
esophagus. The probe uses high-frequency sound waves to create detailed images
of the heart. These pictures give doctors a better view of the heart structures
The goal of
treatment is to correct the heart rhythm immediately and to prevent future
episodes. In an emergency, treatment for ventricular tachycardia may include:
treatment may include oral antiarrhythmic medication. However, these drugs aren’t
always prescribed because they can cause severe side effects. Other long-term
treatment options include:
cardioverter defibrillator: This device is placed in the chest or abdomen to correct
abnormal heart rhythms.
ablation: In this procedure, an electrical current produced by a radio wave destroys
abnormal tissues that are causing the heart to beat incorrectly.
therapy: This procedure involves the implantation of a device that helps
regulate the heartbeat.
What Is the Outlook for People
with Ventricular Tachycardia?
for people with ventricular tachycardia is usually good if treatment is
received quickly. When the disorder goes untreated, however, people are at a greater
risk for sudden cardiac arrest and other serious conditions. Implanted
devices can help prevent complications from occurring. Once in place, these
devices can keep the heart beating and functioning properly.