What are ventricular arrhythmias?

Ventricular arrhythmias are heart-rhythm disturbances that begin in the heart's ventricles, or lower chambers. Examples include:

  • Ventricular tachycardia, which involves an extremely fast heart rate, typically within the context of other serious heart disease;
  • Ventricular fibrillation, which happens suddenly and without warning, and stops all heart function;
  • Long QT syndrome, an electrical-system disorder that can be caused by genetics, medications, or a combination of both.

Ventricular arrhythmia can be very dangerous. These rhythms develop in the bottom part of the heart.

Ventricular arrhythmias include the following:

  • Ventricular tachycardia occurs when the pacemaking role of the heart is taken over by an area of the heart that typically is not involved in the process. This causes the heart’s electrical signals to be sent down a different path than is usual, which can create an irregular heartbeat.
  • Ventricular fibrillation (VFib) is one of the most serious cardiac rhythm disturbances. It is an irregular, uncontrolled heartbeat that occurs when the heart receives impulses from different locations at the same time, telling it to beat. This creates an erratic, fast heartbeat that can only be controlled through immediate medical attention.
  • Premature ventricular contractions occur when the ventricle contracts too soon, which takes it out of sequence with the normal heartbeat. These disturbances often are not serious and do not always require treatment.

This content originally appeared online in "The Patient Guide to Heart, Lung, and Esophageal Surgery" from the Society of Thoracic Surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.