Ventricular Tachycardia

What is a Ventricular Tachycardia?

Ventricular tachycardia causes a fast, but regular, heart rhythm. This rhythm begins in the lower portion of the heart. If this condition is not treated properly, it could worsen and lead to ventricular fibrillation, which is characterized by a fast and irregular rhythm.

This condition is the result of a malfunction within the electrical system of the heart. The pulse increases to over 100 beats per minute, and there are a minimum of three irregular beats in a row as well.

While some forms are inherited, other causes of ventricular tachycardia include structural heart disease, cardiomyopathy, ischemic heart disease, and heart failure.

What are the Symptoms of a Ventricular Tachycardia?

There are a few symptoms that are associated with ventricular tachycardia. These include fatigue, fainting, chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, palpitations, weak pulse or lack of pulse, and dizziness.

Ventricular Tachycardia Causes

In the majority of cases, ventricular tachycardia is caused by a pre-existing heart condition, for example, a previous heart attack. It can also be caused by the development of a congenital heart defect, hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathy, or myocarditis. Heart surgery to correct one of these issues may also cause ventricular tachycardia in some patients. Although rare, genetic defects, such as heart rhythm irregularities have also instigated the condition.

Among other factors contributing to the development of ventricular tachycardia, medications intended to correct abnormal heart rhythm have been known to instigate the condition. Likewise, potassium and electrolyte imbalances may cause ventricular tachycardia in rare instances.

Ventricular tachycardia can also be instigated through over-the-counter decongestants and herbal remedies containing ma huang or ephedra. Taking stimulants, such as those found in diet pills and energy pills or drinks, may also contribute to the development of the condition. Illegal narcotics, especially those that act as a stimulant, are also probable causes of ventricular tachycardia.

How is a Ventricular Tachycardia Treated?

Treatment will depend upon the symptoms, cause, and heart disorder involved.

An individual who is exhibiting symptoms and is in sustained tachycardia will need emergency medical care that might include CPR and the use of an automatic defibrillator. Electrical cardioversion or IV medications can also be used to get the heart back to a normal rhythm.

Antiarrhythmic medications can help prevent recurrences of arrhythmia. An ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) could also be used to detect abnormal rhythms, as well as restore a normal rhythm.

Catheter ablation is a procedure that destroys the areas in the heart that are causing the arrhythmia. This could reduce the occurrence of arrhythmia or stop it completely.

Ventricular Tachycardia Prevention

The most likely way to prevent ventricular tachycardia from occurring is to employ a lifestyle designed to ensure a healthy heart. Reducing the risk of heart disease means reducing the risk of ventricular tachycardia, as well as other conditions which can lead to the development of this disease.

Chiefly, it’s important to exercise daily and eat healthy meals with the goal of maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, getting high blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol under control, either through lifestyle changes or medication, is vital to preventing ventricular tachycardia.

If the concern of developing ventricular tachycardia is present, individuals may want to arrange for regular check-ups. While there, speak with the doctor about relaxation techniques, because stress can also aggravate the condition.

Smoking, recreational drugs, and large intakes of caffeine also instigate occurrences of ventricular tachycardia and should be avoided. Alcohol use may cause the condition as well, so moderation or avoidance is suggested.