Ventricular tachycardia (VT)

Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is a rapid heartbeat that starts in the ventricles of your heart, with a pulse rate of more than 100 beats per minute and at least three irregular heartbeats in a row.


The condition can develop as an early or late complication of a heart attack. It may also occur in patients with:

Ventricular tachycardia can also occur in patients without obviuos heart disease.

Scar tissue may form in the muscle of the ventricles days, months, or years after a heart attack. This can lead to ventricular tachycardia.

Ventricular tachycardia can also be caused by:

  • Anti-arrhythmic medications
  • Changes in blood chemistry (such as a low potassium level)
  • Changes in pH (acid-base)
  • Lack of enough oxygen

"Torsade de pointes" is a form of ventricular tachycardia that is often due to congenital heart disease or the use of certain medications:

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If the heart rate during a ventricular tachycardia episode is very fast or lasts longer than a few seconds. There may be symptoms such as:

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  • Absent pulse
  • Rapid pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Normal or low blood pressure

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Treatment depends on the symptoms, and the type of heart disorder. Some people may not need treatment.

If ventricular tachycardia becomes an emergency situation, it may require:

  • CPR
  • Electrical defibrillation or cardioversion (electric shock)
  • Medications (such as lidocaine, sotalol, or amiodarone) given intravenously.

Some ventricular tachycardias may be treated with an ablation procedure.

A preferred treatment for many chronic (long-term) ventricular tachycardias consists of implanting a device called implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

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