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Ventricular Tachycardia - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

If you are having symptoms and are in a sustained tachycardia, it is a medical emergency. You will need immediate treatment. You may need CPR or a shock from an automatic defibrillator (also known as an AED). Paramedics or your doctor may try intravenous medicines or electrical cardioversion to return your heart to a normal rhythm.

To prevent the arrhythmia from recurring, you may need to take antiarrhythmic medicines.

Your doctor might recommend an implanted device, called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). An ICD can detect an abnormal heart rhythm and restore a normal rhythm.

Heart Rhythm Problems: Should I Get an ICD?

In some cases a procedure called catheter ablation is used to destroy small areas of heart tissue responsible for the arrhythmia. Catheter ablation might make the arrhythmia happen less often or stop the arrhythmia from happening again.1

It is very important that any causes of ventricular tachycardia be identified and treated, if possible. For example, if the ventricular tachycardia results from a medicine, the medicine needs to be stopped.

What precautions should you take?

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you have palpitations, dizziness, near-fainting, or chest pain.

Talk with your doctor before changing your diet. If you want to lose weight, do not use diets that rely on a liquid-based program or a high-protein regimen. These types of diets can affect the concentrations of electrolytes in your blood. This can, in turn, cause problems with your heart.

Ask your doctor when you can drive again. If you have had an episode of ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, your doctor may recommend that you don't drive a car for a few months. This precaution is to make sure you don't have any other episodes that could make driving unsafe. Right after you get an ICD implanted, you will not drive for at least a few days.

Travel safely. It is safe for most people with arrhythmias to travel. Plan ahead to travel safely. For example, plan to wear a medical alert bracelet and to bring enough medicine for the length of your trip.

Know how to actionset.gif live well with an ICD. This includes getting your device checked regularly, avoiding strong electric or magnetic fields, exercising safely, and knowing what to do if you get a shock.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 09, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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