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 emergency medical attention during an episode.
Typically VT occurs in patients with abnormal hearts most commonly due to a 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. Our 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 a diagnosis of VT is obtained, the doctor simply turns 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.
- Heart palpitations
- Fast pulse
- Chest pain
- Lightheadedness and fainting
Treatment 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, insertion of an implantable defibrillator and even catheter ablation to permanently cure the rhythm.
The specialists of the Ben and Zelda Cohen Heart Rhythm Center offer all these therapies with the most advanced technology and trained staff. For an appointment, please call 410-601-WELL.