What is Ventricular Tachycardia?
The ventricles are the heart’s two lower chambers. They fill with blood from the top chambers of the heart (atria) and send it to the lungs and through the aorta to be circulated throughout the body. Tachycardia is a heart rate of greater than 100 beats per minute. A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute at rest. Ventricular tachycardia is a regular, faster-than-normal heart rate that begins in the heart’s lower chambers. In most patients with ventricular tachycardia the rate is in the range of 170 beats per minute or more.
Symptoms of V-Tach
During an episode of ventricular tachycardia, the heart is beating so fast that the blood pressure drops so the heart cannot pump enough oxygen to every part of the body, and this is what causes symptoms. Although some people with ventricular tachycardia do not experience any symptoms, the most common symptoms are dizziness, lighthecadedness, palpitations, shortness of breath or chest pain. When the heart rate is extremely high or the ventricular tachycardia persists for more than a few seconds, it can cause fainting, unconsciousness or cardiac arrest and death.
What are the risks of V-Tach?
If you experience unexplained fainting, dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath or palpitations, you should be evaluated for possible ventricular tachycardia. Chest pain, difficulty breathing and a rapid pulse are urgent symptoms of a potentially fatal ventricular tachycardia, and you must seek emergency care immediately to avoid the risk of cardiac arrest and death.
The goal of treatment is to immediately correct your heart rhythm and prevent future episodes. In an emergency, treatment may include CPR, electrical shock or intravenous medication. Long-term treatment may include oral antiarrythmic medication, implanted cardioverter defibrillator, radio-frequency ablation or cardiac-resynchronization therapy.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are experiencing symptoms of Ventricular Tachycardia, call 205.510.5000 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Macy C. Smith.