Ventricular Tachycardia

Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach or VT) is a fast heartbeat in the lower chambers of the heart. Treatment for ventricular tachycardia depends on the cause of the arrhythmia.

The Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute has solutions that can reduce symptoms and prevent future episodes.

Why choose Henry Ford Health System for ventricular tachycardia?

We use minimally invasive and robotic techniques to deliver precise treatment for V-tach. Our doctors work in specialized electrophysiology labs where 3D imaging lets them see inside your heart.

If you need a defibrillator implanted for ventricular tachycardia, we provide ongoing device monitoring and care from nurse practitioners with specialized training.

What causes ventricular tachycardia?

Abnormal electrical signals in the heart trigger V-tach. They make the heart beat more than 100 times a minute, instead of the normal 60 to 100 beats.

V-tach may occasionally occur in people with normal, healthy hearts. It’s called idiopathic ventricular tachycardia and typically isn’t serious.

Usually, though, another heart problem causes V-tach. These conditions can damage the heart’s “electrical system” and create the abnormal signals responsible for V-tach. They include:

Symptoms of ventricular tachycardia

Symptoms of ventricular tachycardia may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

V-tach that lasts longer than 30 seconds may cause more severe symptoms, including:

How we diagnose ventricular tachycardia

We first do a thorough physical exam and listen while you tell us about your health history and overall wellness.

We may also use sophisticated testing to discover the cause of V-tach, including:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): This quick test gives us a glimpse of how your heart is behaving.
  • Heart rhythm monitoring: You may need to temporarily wear a portable heart monitor or have a small device implanted for longer-term observation. Find out more about heart rhythm monitoring.
  • EP study: During this test, we insert tiny electrodes into the heart’s blood vessels to monitor electrical activity. Learn more about EP studies.
  • Cardiac imaging: Tests such as a cardiac MRI or chest X-ray allow us to examine your heart and look for any problems.

Treatment for V-tach

We want to restore your heart’s normal rhythm and prevent future instances of V-tach. We also work with your primary cardiologist to ensure you get tailored treatment. Depending on what’s causing the V-tach, we may partner with other heart specialists or with interventional radiologists.

Our treatment recommendations for ventricular tachycardia may include one approach or a combination:

  • Medication: We may prescribe antiarrhythmic medications or other drugs to prevent a fast heart rate. Learn more about arrhythmia medication.
  • Ablation: During an ablation procedure, we insert catheters into your veins. We use electrodes on the tips of the catheters to carefully burn or freeze problematic areas of the heart. We may also perform an ablation and an EP study together. Find out more about ablation.
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD): We use a minimally invasive procedure to implant a small defibrillator in your chest. A defibrillator continuously monitors your heart rhythm and gives your heart an electrical jolt when it needs it. Learn more about ICDs.
Take the next step.

Request an appointment with an electrophysiologist.

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