Published on Oct 14, 2022 and last reviewed on Nov 15, 2022 - 4 min read
Ventricular tachycardia is an unusual heart rhythm due to abnormal electrical signals to the lower part of the heart. This article is an overview of ventricular tachycardia.
VT or, ventricular tachycardia is a kind of arrhythmia, which means an abnormal rhythm of the heart caused due to strange electrical activity of the ventricles. The heart is divided into four chambers. The above two chambers are the left and right atrium, and the lower two are called the left and right ventricles. A normal heartbeat originates due to an electrical impulse arising from the sinus node. An unusual electric signal keeps repeating when this is altered, leading to the ventricle beating way too rapidly. The sinus node is a zone of peculiar cells in the heart's upper right chamber (right atrium). This particular region is responsible for the heart to beat in a standard rhythm by creating a stable pace of electrical impulses. However, this steady pace can alter according to physical or emotional activity, for instance, exercise, stress, or rest.
Ventricular tachycardia can be understood as a repeated short circuit taking place in the sinus node resulting in the atrium contracting abnormally fast and thus raising the heartbeat to dangerously high readings and thus leading to the ventricle contracting more rapidly. When ventricular tachycardia happens for a brief period and halts immediately, it is referred to as paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia. But if this is continuous, it is claimed as persistent ventricular tachycardia, VT, or v-tach.
Few clinical manifestations are presented by a patient suffering from ventricular tachycardia. On the other hand, seldom can this condition go unnoticed since it also has the tendency to not show any signs or symptoms.
Below are some of the signs of ventricular tachycardia.
A fluttering feeling in the chest.
Lightheadedness or fainting.
Chest discomfort or chest pain.
Shortness of breath.
Lethargy and fatigue.
Nausea and vomiting.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is due to the heart turning weak.
Heart failure is a result of a combination of the above symptoms.
Ventricular tachycardia is a moderately common phenomenon seen in the senile group of society. The majority of the newly recorded cases are paroxysmal in nature. Ventricular tachycardia can occur in any individual. It is equally reported in both men and women. It should be noted that there are some age factors that result in particular kinds of ventricular tachycardia. Additionally, there are also some kinds of ventricular tachycardia that run in families. Thus genetics can play a crucial role in acquiring this condition. Several other factors, such as underlying cardiovascular disease or a history of cardiac disorders, are also pivotal in getting affected.
There are numerous reasons that have the potential to result in ventricular tachycardia.
Below are some of them.
A history of cardiovascular disease.
Congenital heart disorders.
Episodes of a heart attack.
Disproportionate electrolyte levels.
Increased alcohol consumption.
Long QT syndrome.
Increased intake of caffeine and caffeine-related foods and beverages.
Methamphetamine, cocaine, and other recreational drugs.
Hypertension, meaning high blood pressure.
Coronary artery disease.
Heart tissue is getting scarred.
Patients suffering from diabetes or chronic heart failure.
Physiologically, there are three causes of tachycardia to occur in the upper chamber of the heart. They are automaticity, re-entry, and triggered activity.
Automaticity occurs when the sinus node starts functioning incorrectly due to the heart’s chemical elements going out of proportion. This is generally seen in the younger population.
When an electrical signal that informs the heart cells to beat again sends the same information, it is referred to as re-entry. This is usually found in the older population.
When an electrical impulse responds, again and again, having a combination of incorrect reaction and then the immediate correct response of the cells, it is called triggered activity.
The signs and symptoms of a patient generally give the idea of an underlying problem with the heart rhythm. Therefore, several medical tests are conducted to diagnose this condition.
Medical history recording is essential to understand the ongoing cardiovascular condition.
Physical examination reveals any risk factors that may be present.
Electrocardiography measures the heart's electrical activity with the help of sensors and electric pads in the chest.
A Holter monitor is similar to an electrocardiograph, but it approximately records the heart activity for over two days.
Ambulatory monitors, such as event monitors or implantable monitors, which can be taken home for up to a month, can also help diagnose ventricular tachycardia.
To understand the type of ventricular tachycardia, the healthcare professional may conduct a detailed electrophysiological heart study. This study is generally combined with catheter ablation.
The first step toward treatment is not to manage any underlying cardiac condition. This is followed by correcting the specific part of the heart that produces the wrong electrical signals. This can be done after multiple diagnostic tools determine and locate the precise abnormality. Correction of the present cardiovascular condition generally tends to cure ventricular tachycardia. Medications and therapy that aid in improving irregular heartbeats may then be prescribed by the healthcare professional. This is done only after a fine-tuned electrophysiological study of the heart. A surgical route is decided if there is no alternative way to treat ventricular tachycardia.
Ventricular tachycardia is a fatal arrhythmia that needs emergency management according to advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS) protocol. It requires to be reverted by electrical cardioversion by a direct current shock (defibrillator) if patient is unstable. If not reverted, it can lead to cardiac arrest. Any signs or symptoms should not be ignored, and medical care must be immediately sought. Generally, ventricular tachycardia goes away, and people return to their everyday lives. Alternatively, there are multiple treatment modalities present that eradicate this condition. Diet and exercise play a critical role in heart health. Thus, keeping track of one’s health and weight can reduce the risk of developing ventricular tachycardia.
Last reviewed at:
15 Nov 2022 - 4 min read
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