Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormally fast heart rate. The abnormal heart rate originates in one of the heart's lower chambers (ventricles). It is diagnosed when there are three or more beats in succession originating from a ventricle. The heart beats at a rate greater than 100 beats per minute, but less than 200 beats per minute.
Ventricular tachycardia is considered sustained if it lasts more than 30 seconds. When this condition is sustained, the ventricles are not able to fill with enough blood for the heart to keep blood flowing properly through the body. This can result in lowered blood pressure, heart failure, and death.
The following factors may increase your chance of ventricular tachycardia:
Symptoms may include:
This condition can be challenging to diagnose. Ventricular tachycardia often happens in emergency situations. It must be identified and treated very quickly.
To make the diagnosis, the doctor will order tests, such as:
In an emergency situation, CPR or a defibrillator may be required.
Other treatment options may include:
If other approaches fail, an automatic defibrillator will be inserted into the heart to deliver shocks as needed to keep the heart rate steady.
If you are at risk for ventricular tachycardia, your doctor may make these recommendations:
American Heart Association
Heart Rhythm Society
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Ventricular tachycardia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated March 29, 2012. Accessed September 5, 2012.
Ventricular tachycardia. The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/heart_and_blood_vessel_disorders/abnormal_heart_rhythms/ventricular_tachycardia.html. Updated January 2008. Accessed September 5, 2012.
Ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. New York-Presbyterian Hospital website. Available at: http://nyp.org/health/ventricular-tachycardia-fibrillation.html. Accessed September 5, 2012.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.