What is ventricular tachycardia (VT)?

Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is a type of abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia. The heart’s rhythm (heartbeat) is regulated by natural electrical impulses that travel through the heart muscle. These impulses tell the heart’s chambers when to contract.

Ventricular tachycardia is a dangerous type of rapid heart rhythm usually associated with poor cardiac output (blood ejected from the heart). It arises in the heart’s lower chambers (ventricles) from tissues that generate a rapid and irregular heart rhythm. Ventricular tachycardia is a life-threatening emergency that may require an electrical shock therapy called cardioversion.

Imran K. Niazi, MD
Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology

Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormal heart rhythm that can be dangerous or even fatal. The normal heartbeat starts in the upper chambers of the heart, and normally ranges between 60-100 beats per minute.

Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormal heart rhythm originating in the lower chambers of the heart. It is usually much faster than the normal heartbeat, varying from 150 to 300 beats per minute. (About triple the normal heart rate.) It may cause loss of consciousness or cardiac arrest. Rarely, in patients with normal hearts, ventricular tachycardia may not cause too many problems.

Ventricular tachycardia occurs when the ventricles of the heart beat more than 100 beats per minute. Ventricular tachycardia can be very dangerous. It requires immediate medical attention and can cause death if left untreated.
Ventricular tachycardia may occur as a complication of a heart attack. It may also develop in people who have had cardiomyopathy, heart failure, heart surgery, myocarditis, valvular heart disease, or congenital heart disease, and in those who use certain medications.
The symptoms of ventricular tachycardia may include:
- Chest discomfort
- Fainting
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Palpitations
- Shortness of breath
People experiencing ventricular tachycardia may also lose consciousness.
Ventricular tachycardia is a fast, possibly life-threatening heart rhythm that stems from abnormal electrical impulses in the ventricles, or lower chambers of the heart. As a result, they do not fill with adequate amounts of blood and are unable to pump enough blood through the body.
Ventricular tachycardia (VT), or ventricular fibrillation, is one of the most severe types of arrhythmias. It is a fast heart rate that starts in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). The heart beats so quickly that it cannot effectively pump blood. If a more normal rhythm is not restored within three to five minutes, the patient will suffer brain and heart damage, and can die. When VT occurs, there is no pulse and the person must receive CPR or defibrillation immediately. A defibrillator gives an electrical shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm.
Heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias) can originate in the lower pumping chambers or ventricles, the most common being ventricular tachycardia (VT). Ventricular arrhythmias tend to be more serious than supraventricular arrhythmias -- heart rhythm disturbances that originate in the upper heart chambers -- and are generally life threatening.

VT most often arises from areas of scar tissue in the ventricle, which is the result of a heart attack. However, VT can also occur in a normal, healthy heart. Ablation can be used to treat VT in some instances. Your physician and/or nurse can discuss this possibility with you.
Vivek Y. Reddy, MD
Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology
Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormally fast heartbeat that originates in the ventricles. If a ventricular tachycardia rhythm lasts for more than a few seconds, it can lead to the much more dangerous ventricular fibrillation and then death.

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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.