Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormally fast heartbeat that originates in the bottom chambers of your heart (ventricles). The fast heartbeat does not allow your heart enough time to fill with blood to pump around your body, which reduces the blood flow to your organs. Ventricular tachycardia may only last for a few seconds or it may last for extended periods of time, which is extremely dangerous and requires emergency treatment. Symptoms include:
- Fast heartbeat or a fluttering feeling in the chest (palpitations)
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Cardiac arrest
If your ventricular tachycardia is sustained (lasts a long time), your doctor will first restore your heart to a normal 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 tachycardia and prevent it from occurring again. If the cause of your ventricular tachycardia 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 tachycardia 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 tachycardia.