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 study. During an electrophysiology (EP) study,
electrical currents are sent through a catheter into the heart to try to
trigger ventricular tachycardia and record the flow of electricity through the
heart. In this way, the 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 require
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
antiarrhythmic medicines. But these medicines may have
side effects. So instead, doctors often recommend a type of permanent pacemaker,
implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). This
device is placed under the skin in your chest and continuously monitors your
heart's rhythm. If ventricular tachycardia occurs, the ICD applies an
electrical shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. After a normal rhythm
is restored, the device goes back to continuous monitoring mode. Sometimes,
both medicines and an ICD are needed.
- Heart Rate 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. In this procedure, thin, flexible wires are
inserted into a blood vessel in the thigh, groin, neck, or elbow and threaded
to the heart. Through these wires, heat or freezing cold temperatures can be
delivered to the specific heart tissue that is generating abnormal electrical
impulses (previously located in the EP study). The heat or freezing cold
destroy (ablate) this heart tissue and can stop ventricular tachycardia from
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?
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
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.
When to call a doctor