Ventricular tachycardia is a medical condition where the heart beats too fast and in an abnormal rhythm, originating from the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles).
Ventricular tachycardia can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions or factors, including heart disease (such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, or cardiomyopathy), electrolyte imbalances (such as low potassium or magnesium levels), certain medications or drugs, genetic disorders, or other abnormalities in the heart’s electrical system.
Ventricular tachycardia symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Common symptoms may include
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Palpitations or the feeling of a “racing” heart
Chest discomfort or pain
Shortness of breath,
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Loss of consciousness
Sudden cardiac arrest
Doctors may use various tests and procedures, including:
- Examination of symptoms and medical history
- Using an electrocardiogram (ECG) to record the electrical activity of the heart and identify the characteristic pattern of ventricular tachycardia
- Providing a Holter monitor, a portable device that records the heart’s electrical activity over some time
- Conducting an electrophysiology study (EPS), which involves threading a catheter through a vein in the groin or arm and into the heart to stimulate and record its electrical activity, helping identify the location and cause of ventricular tachycardia
- Ordering imaging tests, such as an echocardiogram, CT scan, or MRI to evaluate the structure and function of the heart and look for any underlying conditions that may be contributing to ventricular tachycardia.
After diagnosing ventricular tachycardia, the doctor will work with you to determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan.
Treatment aims to restore a normal heart rhythm and prevent future episodes.
Certain drugs, including antiarrhythmic agents, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers, may be prescribed to manage symptoms and regulate heart rate and rhythm.
Cardioversion, an electrical shock treatment that restores a normal heart rhythm, may be performed as an emergency procedure.
Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that destroys heart tissue responsible for the abnormal rhythm.
An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a small device that can detect and treat irregular heart rhythms, restoring normal rhythm through shock delivery.
In rare cases, surgery may be suggested to remove the specific heart area causing VT.
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