Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is a rapid type of heartbeat that starts in the lower part of the heart (ventricles). VT is a potentially lethal arrhythmia and can lead to cardiac arrest. Anyone with a diagnosis of this arrhythmia must seek emergent medical attention during an episode.
Typically VT occurs in patients with abnormal hearts most commonly due to history of heart attacks and/or heart failure. As with any arrhythmia the most important first-step is making a diagnosis. A diagnosis is obtainable by an ECG (shown below) during the event or by performing an Electrophysiology Study.
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An Electrophysiology study is a diagnostic catheter-based procedure. Heart Rhythm specialists insert a tiny pacemaker wire into the heart via the groin vessels and stimulate the abnormal rhythm in a controlled medical environment to confirm the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis of VT is obtained the doctors simply turn off the rhythm via the pacemaker wires.
Patients with VT should undergo a complete cardiac work-up including cardiac imaging and stress testing to rule out underlying reversible causes of this rhythm.
Symptoms of VT include:
- Heart palpitations
- Fast pulse
- Chest pain
- Lightheadedness and fainting
Treatment of VT is divided into emergent and long-term therapy. Emergently either EMS or the ER doctor will shock the heart out of the rhythm. Long-term therapies include medication, implantation of a pacemaker-type device (ICD-Defibrillator to automatically shock the heart), and even ablation to permanently cure the rhythm.
The Heart Rhythm Specialists at Lifebridge Healthcare offer all of these therapies with the most advanced technology and trained staff. For an appointment call 410-601-WELL.