Ventricular Fibrillation

Dr. Alrich L. Gray // Central Montana Heart & Vascular Institute

Ventricular Fibrillation

Ventricular fibrillation occurs when the bottom chambers of your heart beat in small, erratic pulses. These rapid quivers are not effective in pumping blood around your body, so your organs are not getting sufficient oxygen and nutrients. Ventricular fibrillation is very serious and can result in sudden cardiac arrest. Symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath

Treatment of ventricular fibrillation requires setting the heart back to a normal, stable rhythm, which is most often done through defibrillation. During defibrillation, an electric shock is delivered to your heart through paddles. After your heart has stabilized, you may require a long term intervention to address the cause of your fibrillation and prevent it from occurring again. If the cause of your ventricular fibrillation is a problem with your heart’s electrical signalling, your doctor may perform a catheter ablation, during which he will use radiofrequency or cryo energy to modify the tissues in your heart that generate electrical abnormalities. Another treatment may be inserting an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, which will monitor your heart’s rhythm and will send an impulse to your heart if it detects an abnormal or dangerous rhythm. If the cause of your fibrillation is a blocked artery, your doctor may perform an angioplasty to clear the blockage. In addition to procedures, your doctor may prescribe medications that will help your heart’s chambers stay at a healthy rhythm. Your treatment will depend on the cause of your ventricular fibrillation.