Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach) is a type of abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) that starts in the lower chambers of the heart, the ventricles. Tachycardia, a fast heart rate, usually occurs when the electrical signals in your heart are sent too quickly. This keeps your heart from pumping enough blood and oxygen through your body. Most people with ventricular tachycardia have a heart rate of at least 170 beats per minute.

Overview and Symptoms

Usually, patients with ventricular tachycardia have coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, or another heart problem. V-tach also can develop after you have a heart attack or undergo heart surgery, due to scar tissue forming on the heart and interfering with its electrical signals.

Though some patients do not notice symptoms, the most common symptoms of V-tach include: 

  • Palpitations (racing heart sensation)
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting (syncope)
If V-tach lasts longer than a few seconds, it can lead to unconsciousness or cardiac arrest. It is important to seek emergency help if you experience severe chest pain, have trouble breathing, or feel a rapid pulse — these may be signs that the V-tach is potentially life-threatening.

Treatment

If you have heart disease or another heart condition, the main goal in treating ventricular tachycardia is to first manage the illness that is causing it. Nonemergency treatment can include:

  • Catheter ablation, to correct the abnormal heart rhythm
  • Implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) to control your heart rhythm

In an emergency situation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, defibrillation and/or IV medication can be given to slow the heart rate.

Learn More

The expert electrophysiologists in the CVI offer care and treatment for the full range of conditions that cause an abnormal heartbeat.

Arrhythmia Services