Alternate Names : V Tach
Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is an arrhythmia, or irregular type of heartbeat. It causes a rapid heartbeat, usually 150 to 200 beats per minute.
What is going on in the body?
The heart is divided into two lower chambers and two upper chambers. The lower chambers are called the ventricles. The upper chambers are known as the atria. The ventricles beat in a regular pattern in response to electrical impulses from the atria.
Ventricular tachycardia occurs when the electrical impulse starts
in the ventricles instead of the atria. This impulse takes over the heartbeat,
causing the heart to beat very rapidly. It also keeps the ventricles from
filling with blood. If VT continues, the heart stops pumping, and the blood pressure drops. Unless the heartbeat returns to normal, the person will die.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
VT can be caused by certain conditions, including:
certain medicines that affect the heart, such as digitalis
coronary heart disease or other forms of heart disease
low levels of potassium, calcium, or magnesium in the blood
a previous or current heart attack
stimulants, such as caffeine, cocaine, or amphetamines
problems in the electrical system of the heart