Ventricular Tachycardia

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Ventricular tachycardia is a type of arrhythmia resulting from rapid heartbeats that originate from the ventricles (lower chambers) of your heart.
Certain types of ventricular tachycardia can cause sudden cardiac arrest.


Our Approach to Ventricular Tachycardia Treatment

Many people with sustained ventricular tachycardia require treatment.


Our heart specialists are experts at detecting and diagnosing ventricular tachycardia, as well as determining whether your condition is life-threatening. If treatment is needed, our experts use the most advanced implantable devices or catheter-based procedures to help restore your heart’s normal rhythm.


Our Approach to Ventricular Tachycardia Treatment

What Causes Ventricular Tachycardia?

Ventricular tachycardia refers to abnormally rapid heartbeats that originate from the lower chambers of the heart. If your heart rate is too fast, there is not enough time for new blood to enter the ventricle between contractions. This reduces how effective your heart is at pumping blood.


Ventricular tachycardia occurs most often in people who have a weakened heart muscle, known as cardiomyopathy, or when scar tissue develops after a heart attack . It can also occur in structurally normal hearts, if the problem is primarily electrical.


Certain drugs can also cause ventricular tachycardia.


What Are the Symptoms of Ventricular Tachycardia?

The symptoms of ventricular tachycardia can be mild, but if your heart rate during a ventricular tachycardia episode is very fast or lasts longer than a few seconds, several symptoms often will be present: 

  • Chest discomfort (angina)
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness that may result in fainting
  • Awareness of your heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)


Certain forms of ventricular tachycardia, particularly when paired with another heart disease, can cause ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac arrest


How Is Ventricular Tachycardia Diagnosed?

Diagnosing ventricular tachycardia requires a test called an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG), which measures the electrical activity of your heart.


You need to have this test while you are experiencing an episode of rapid heartbeats, however. Because ventricular tachycardia comes and goes, a static EKG may not catch an abnormal heart rhythm at that particular time.


This means other tests may be required to diagnose ventricular tachycardia, including:

  • A Holter monitor – a wearable device that measure your heart’s electrical activity throughout the course of a day, or several days
  • An electrophysiology study – evaluation of the electrical circuits controlling your heart rate
  • Blood tests – a way to identify possible medications or recreational drugs that may be accelerating your heart rate

What Are the Ventricular Tachycardia Treatment Options?

If you have sustained ventricular tachycardia, you may benefit from medications that suppress your arrhythmia.


The definitive treatment for symptomatic long-term ventricular tachycardia is an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), which can prevent sudden cardiac arrest due to ventricular tachycardia. An ICD is a device implanted in the chest, similar to a pacemaker, that normalizes your heart rate.


The only curative treatment for ventricular tachycardia is catheter ablation, a procedure in which catheters are used to find the source of the arrhythmia and destroy the causative tissue.


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