How is ventricular tachycardia diagnosed?
electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) can be done while
ventricular tachycardia is occurring, it often provides the most useful
information. An electrocardiogram is a tracing of the electrical activity of
your heart. It is usually done along with a history and physical exam,
lab tests, and a
tachycardia can occur intermittently and may not always be captured by an EKG
at the doctor's office, you may be asked to use a portable EKG to record your
heart rhythm on a continuous basis, usually over a 24-hour period. This is
referred to by several names, including ambulatory electrocardiography,
ambulatory EKG, Holter monitoring, 24-hour EKG, or cardiac event monitoring.
Your doctor may recommend further tests, including an
echocardiogram, to evaluate your heart's function, a stress test or coronary
angiogram to determine whether a part of the heart is not getting enough blood,
and/or an electrophysiology (EP) study. An EP study can locate specific areas of heart tissue that
give rise to abnormal electrical impulses, which may be causing the ventricular
tachycardia. This information is used to determine the best treatment.
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
To prevent the arrhythmia from recurring, you may
need to take
Your doctor might recommend an implanted device,
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.