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Ventricular tachycardia

  • Definition

    Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is a rapid heartbeat that starts in the ventricles.


    Alternative Names

    Wide-complex tachycardia; V tach; Tachycardia - ventricular


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Ventricular tachycardia is a pulse rate of more than 100 beats per minute, with 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:

    • Cardiomyopathy
    • Heart failure
    • Heart surgery
    • Myocarditis
    • Valvular heart disease

    Ventricular tachycardia can occur without 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.