When at rest, the heart of a healthy adult beats steadily at a rhythmic rate of approximately 60 to 100 beats every minute. Heart rate is lower in very fit individuals and elite athletes. The heart rate can be checked or measured by taking a pulse manually or using a specially designed device. Ventricular tachycardia is a cardiac disorder or arrhythmia triggered by abnormal electrical signals in the ventricles found in the lower chambers of the heart.
What is Tachycardia?
Tachycardia is a cardiac disorder where the heart is unexpectedly beating too fast or faster than what is usual for that person in that particular situation. Exercise, fear, or stress naturally elevate heart rate. Doctors usually diagnose problematic tachycardia when the heart rate is measured and found to be higher than 100 beats per minute when these factors are not present.
What are the Symptoms?
The various symptoms of tachycardia include a shortness of breath and a feeling that the heart is suddenly racing too fast or palpitating within the rib cage. Other symptoms include feeling lightheaded or dizzy. In some individuals, this may lead to fainting. Chest pain may also develop.
What are the causes?
The causes of tachycardia are various and include a normal acceleration of heart rate due to strenuous exercise, stress, or sudden fear. Other factors include abnormally high or low smoking and blood pressure readings. People may also have existing damage to the heart or cardiac tissues due to illnesses such as anemia or heart disease, or congenital disabilities.
Is it Dangerous?
As tachycardia in general means a rapid heart rate, it may be a completely normal reaction to something that causes a release of adrenaline and quickened heartbeat. Fear can cause this response. After a temporary acceleration, the heart rate and rhythm unless a disease or damage to heart tissues causes the event.
What is Ventricular Tachycardia?
Ventricular tachycardia is a very fast heart rate with a specific cause identified and diagnosed by a health professional. The ventricles are the lower two chambers of the heart that fill up with blood pumped from the two upper chambers or atriums. If the electrical signals given by the ventricles are abnormal, this causes confusion in the heart. As a result, the heart cannot fill with enough blood and pump properly.
What are the Signs of Ventricular Tachycardia?
As the outcome is an accelerated heart rate, the symptoms of ventricular tachycardia are the same as general tachycardia. Some people may not have any symptoms, but those who do usually experience signs related to too little oxygen is reaching the brain, such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or even fainting.
What are the Causes?
While the exact cause of ventricular tachycardia cannot always be identified, it is usually caused by a subsequent abnormal heart condition. For example, as cardiomyopathy progresses without treatment, it can weaken the heart muscle. A previous non-fatal heart attack may cause significant structural damage to the heart’s vital tissues. Ischemic heart disease occurs when there is a lack of adequate blood flow to the heart. Total heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump an adequate blood to the brain and vital organs.
Diagnosis of Ventricular Tachycardia
A doctor will note the presenting symptoms and vital signs such as pulse rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation levels. He or she will also take into account the duration or length of the tachycardiac episode. Diagnosis of ventricular tachycardia is based on the analysis of blood tests or an electrocardiogram. The doctor may also order a chest x-ray or other cardiac imaging processes.
Treatment of Ventricular Tachycardia
The goal of treatment is to correct the underlying cause and prevent further episodes from occurring. Should the heart stop, short-term emergency treatment will involve CPR, defibrillation, and intravenous drugs. Long-term options include an implantable cardioverter defibrillator in the chest cavity to correct the abnormal heart rhythm. Radiofrequency ablation uses electrical currents produced by radio waves to destroy abnormal tissues causing the problematic heartbeat.
Prognosis for Ventricular Tachycardia
If medical investigation and diagnosis are promptly reached, and correct treatment is received quickly and continued, the outlook for people with ventricular tachycardia is good. The individual will remain under the care of the cardiologist. Sometimes, he or she will recommend lifestyle or dietary changes to ensure continued health.