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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Ventricular Tachycardia
      Category : Health Centers > Heart Diseases

Ventricular Tachycardia

Alternate Names : V Tach

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

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


    Next section


    Ventricular Tachycardia: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Susan Woods, MD
    Reviewer: Barbara Mallari, RN, BSN, PHN
    Date Reviewed: 07/31/01

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