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Ventricular tachycardia

  • Alternative Names

    Wide-complex tachycardia; V tach; Tachycardia - ventricular


    Treatment

    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)
    • Anti-arrhythmic medications (such as lidocaine, procainamide, sotalol, or amiodarone) given through a vein

    Long-term treatment of ventricular tachycardia may require the use of oral anti-arrhythmic medications (such as procainamide, amiodarone, or sotalol). However, anti-arrhythmic medications may have severe side effects. Their use is decreasing in favor of other treatments.

    Some ventricular tachycardias may be treated with an ablation procedure. Radiofrequency catheter ablation can cure certain tachycardias.

    A preferred treatment for many chronic (long-term) ventricular tachycardias consists of implanting a device called implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). The ICD is usually implanted in the chest, like a pacemaker. It is connected to the heart with wires.

    The doctor programs the ICD to sense when ventricular tachycardia is occurring, and to administer a shock to stop it. The ICD may also be programmed to send a rapid burst of paced beats to interrupt the ventricular tachycardia. You may need to take anti-arrhythmic drugs to prevent repeated firing of the ICD.


    Expectations (prognosis)

    The outcome depends on the heart condition and symptoms.


    Complications

    Ventricular tachycardia may not cause symptoms in some people. However, it may be lethal in other people. It is a major cause of sudden cardiac death.


    Calling your health care provider

    Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have a rapid, irregular pulse, faint, or have chest pain. All of these may be signs of ventricular tachycardia.