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Ventricular tachycardia is a very fast heart rhythm that begins in the ventricles. The ventricles are the two lower chambers of the heart. They fill with blood from the atria, or top chambers of the heart, and send it to the rest of the body. Ventricular tachycardia is a pulse of more than 100 beats per minute with at least three irregular heartbeats in a row. It is caused by a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system.
Your heart rate is controlled by electrical impulses that trigger each contraction and determine the rhythm of the heart. When this process is disrupted and the electrical signals are sent too quickly, ventricular tachycardia can occur. The rapid heartbeat doesn’t give the ventricles enough to time to fill with blood before the heart contracts. As a result, the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Ventricular tachycardia may only last for a few seconds or for much longer. It doesn’t always cause symptoms, but when symptoms do occur, they may include lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. The condition most commonly affects people who have heart disorders, such as coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathy.
Ventricular tachycardia may eventually lead to ventricular fibrillation, which is characterized by a rapid, inadequate heart rhythm. In this condition, the heartbeat is so fast and irregular that it causes the heart to stop working. To prevent this complication from occurring, it’s important to get immediate treatment for ventricular tachycardia.
Symptoms of ventricular tachycardia include:
- Chest Pain
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
The goal of treatment is to correct the heart rhythm immediately and to prevent future episodes. In an emergency, treatment for ventricular tachycardia may include:
- Electrical defibrillation
- Antiarrhythmic medication
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator: This device is placed in the chest or abdomen to correct abnormal heart rhythms.
- Radiofrequency ablation: In this procedure, an electrical current produced by a radio wave destroys abnormal tissues that are causing the heart to beat incorrectly.
- Cardiac-resynchronization therapy: This procedure involves the implantation of a device that helps regulate the heartbeat