Ventricular Tachycardia

Overview

Ventricular tachycardia is a heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia) caused by abnormal electrical signals in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). This condition may also be called V-tach or VT.

A healthy heart normally beats about 60 to 100 times a minute at rest. In ventricular tachycardia, the heart beats faster than normal, usually 100 or more beats a minute.
The chaotic heartbeats prevent the heart chambers from properly filling with blood. As a result, your heart may not be able to pump enough blood to your body and lungs.
Ventricular tachycardia may last for only a few seconds, or it can last for much longer. You may feel dizzy or short of breath or have chest pain. Sometimes, ventricular tachycardia can cause your heart to stop (sudden cardiac arrest), which is a life-threatening medical emergency.

Symptoms
Brief episodes of ventricular tachycardia may not cause any symptoms in some people. Or you may have:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Feeling as if your heart is racing (palpitations)
  • Chest pain (angina)

Sustained and more-serious episodes of ventricular tachycardia may cause:

  • Loss of consciousness or fainting
  • Cardiac arrest (sudden death)

Prevention
The best way to prevent ventricular tachycardia is to treat or eliminate risk factors that may lead to heart disease. If you already have heart disease, follow your treatment plan and a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Take the following steps:

  • Exercise and eat a healthy diet. Live a heart-healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating a healthy, low-fat diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing heart disease.
  • Keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. Make lifestyle changes and take medications as prescribed to correct high blood pressure (hypertension) or high cholesterol.
  • Control stress. Avoid unnecessary stress and learn coping techniques to handle normal stress in a healthy way.
  • Don’t use recreational drugs. Don’t use stimulants, such as cocaine. Talk to your doctor about an appropriate program for you if you need help ending recreational drug use.
  • Go to scheduled checkups. Have regular physical exams and report any signs or symptoms to your doctor.
  • Limit alcohol. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. For some conditions it’s recommended that you completely avoid alcohol. Ask your doctor for advice specific to your condition.
  • Limit caffeine. If you drink caffeinated beverages, do so in moderation (no more than one to two beverages daily).
  • Stop smoking. If you smoke and can’t quit on your own, talk to your doctor about strategies or programs to help you break a smoking habit.
  • Use over-the-counter medications with caution. Some cold and cough medications contain stimulants that may trigger a rapid heartbeat. Ask your doctor which medications you need to avoid.

Call The Heart Institute of East Texas is you are having any signs and symptoms to make your cardiologist appointment at 933-632-8787.

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