Ventricular tachycardia is an irregularity in the heart rhythm. The heartbeat is too rapid and starts in a different section of the heart.
In some individuals, ventricular tachycardia is only brief and the heart returns to its normal rhythm. Nevertheless, if it lasts more than 30 seconds, it can lead to fainting or lightheadedness with rapid heartbeat or the heart muscle becomes weak from heart disease which puts the individual at high risk for sudden death.
What is the cause?
The electrical signal in the heart initiates every heartbeat, causing the heart muscle to squeeze. Generally, this signal originates in the upper right heart chamber at the sinus node. The signal follows the pathways to the upper left atrium and to the ventricles.
If an individual has ventricular tachycardia, the heartbeat arises in the lower heart chambers instead in the right atrium. This is likely to occur if the following are present:
- Heart disease such as heart failure or had a heart attack
- Using certain drugs
- Abnormal heart muscles due to an infection, birth defect or accident
What are the signs?
The usual sign is a feeling that the heart rate is rapid or pounding sensation in the chest.
- Fainting or lightheadedness
- Chest pain
- Weakness and increased sweating
- Shortness of breath
Management of ventricular tachycardia
Ventricular tachycardia can be managed with:
- Medications to slow down the heart rate
- Ablation involves using a small-sized tube or catheter to deliver electrical impulses to the interior of the heart. These electrical pulses produce small scars that block the erratic electrical pathways to restore the normal heart rhythm.
- Implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) which delivers a shock to the heart to restore its normal rhythm
- Surgical intervention to open or bypass the blocked blood vessels
The individual will also undergo treatment for other health issues responsible for ventricular tachycardia. If the heart could not pump properly, drugs are prescribed to allow it to pump better.