Ventricular Tachycardia Symptoms And Treatment

Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormally fast heart rhythm, of over 120 beats a minute, originating in the ventricles.

  • Palpitations or awareness of heart beats is the major symptom.
  • Selective destruction of a specific area of the ventricle responsible for the condition may be necessary, but using an automatic defibrillator is a viable alternative.

Ventricular tachycardia consists of a series of premature ventricular beats closely following one another. It may be sporadic, and after a brief bout of fast, abnormal beats, the normal heart rhythm may be restored. But if the abnormal rhythm persists for more than half a minute, it is termed as sustained ventricular tachycardia. It is prevalent in people whose ventricles are damaged due to some structural disorder of the heart, as well as in those who have had a heart attack recently. Though, generally, the incidence of ventricular tachycardia is more frequent among older people; even young people, even those without any structural heart defect, occasionally develop this condition.

Ventricular Tachycardia Symptoms and Diagnosis

Palpitations or awareness of heartbeat is the main symptom felt by almost everyone with this condition. Sustained ventricular tachycardia often precipitates a dangerous situation of abnormally low blood pressure due to the inability of the ventricles to fill with blood and pump blood adequately, which can lead to heart failure. Sustained ventricular tachycardia may also deteriorate fast to ventricular fibrillation, culminating in cardiac arrest. Occasionally, ventricular tachycardia may be more or less asymptomatic even at the rate of over 200 beats per minute, making it difficult to recognize this dangerous situation.

Ventricular tachycardia symptoms can be diagnosed by electrocardiography (ECG); this can also help assess the need for treatment. A small portable ECG machine called Holter monitor may be kept connected to the patient for a period of 24 hours to measure and record the heart rhythm.


Ventricular tachycardia lasting more than half a minute requires medical intervention even when severe symptoms are not present. Sustained ventricular tachycardia is an emergency situation as it often results in blood pressure getting dangerously lowered due to the impaired pumping action of the heart. Immediate cardioversion may prevent a potentially fatal outcome.

Ventricular tachycardia may also be treated with drugs such as lidocaine and amiodarone, given intravenously to suppress the arrhythmia. Procainamide is another useful drug.

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive surgical procedure by which, selective destruction of a specific area of the ventricle responsible for the ventricular tachycardia, can be achieved. The procedure involves identifying the offending area with the help of ECG, and then applying high frequency energy to kill the tissue, with the help of an electrode-tipped catheter threaded into the heart via a vein. This is preferred to an open-heart surgery due to the lowered risks and reduced hospital stay involved.

Ventricular tachycardia accompanied by other heart disorders, result in poor pumping activity of the heart. To help counteract it, a small device called automatic defibrillator, (similar to an artificial pacemaker) that can detect an arrhythmia and automatically deliver a shock to correct it, is often implanted by a minimally invasive surgery.

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Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

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