What is Ventricular Tachycardia?

Ventricular tachycardia is also called VT or V-tach (pronounced V-tack). Ventricular tachycardia occurs when abnormal cardiac impulses start in the heart ventricles (the two bottom chambers of the heart) and cause the heart to beat faster than normal. V-tach may start from heart muscle that has been damaged by prior heart disease, but it may also arise in a structurally normal heart. Ventricular tachycardia may be a particularly serious condition when it arises from heart muscle that is weakened from previous heart attacks or coronary blockages. In certain individuals, ventricular tachycardia may lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death.

Symptoms of Ventricular Tachycardia

The symptoms of V-tach depend on how long it lasts, how fast the heart is beating, and how healthy the heart is. The symptoms may include palpitations, racing heart feelings, rapid pulse, light headedness, fainting, chest pain, chest pressure, chest discomfort, anxiety or shortness of breath. In general, longer episodes and faster episodes tend to lead to more severe symptoms.

Treatment of Ventricular Tachycardia

If an episode of ventricular tachycardia is prolonged or life threatening, it may need to be treated with a cardioversion or an electric shock to the heart. Preventing repeat episodes of ventricular tachycardia involves establishing the cause and estimating a person’s risk of repeat episodes or sudden death. If the V-tach is due to poor blood flow to the heart muscle from a heart attack or chronic coronary blockages, then re-establishing adequate blood flow to the heart is usually the first step in treatment. An electrophysiologist, a cardiologist with specialized training in the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms, may perform a cardiac ablation or implant a cardiac defibrillator to treat the V-tach and prevent sudden death.

ventricular tachycardia

To learn more about ventricular tachycardia, please visit the educational websites below.