Ventricular tachycardia is a type of heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia) in which the lower chambers of your heart (ventricles) beat very quickly because of a problem in your heart's electrical system.

In ventricular tachycardia, your heart may not be able to pump enough blood to your body and lungs because the chambers are beating so fast that they don't have time to properly fill. Ventricular tachycardia may be brief — lasting for just seconds and often not causing symptoms — or it can last for much longer, and you can develop symptoms such as dizziness or lightheadedness, or you can even pass out. This condition usually occurs in people with other heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy and some types of valvular heart disease.

Ventricular tachycardia may lead to a condition in which your lower heart chambers quiver (ventricular fibrillation), which may cause your heart to stop (sudden cardiac arrest) and lead to death if not treated immediately. Ventricular tachycardia can also cause your heart to stop, especially if the heart is beating very quickly, if it's lasting for a long period, and if you have an underlying heart condition.

  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in heart conditions (cardiologists), heart rhythm conditions (electrophysiologists) and others have experience diagnosing and treating people with ventricular tachycardia and other heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias). Mayo doctors evaluate and treat more than 2,400 people with ventricular tachycardia each year.
  • Multidisciplinary team. Mayo Clinic cardiologists, electrophysiologists and other specialists work together as a multidisciplinary team to provide you with coordinated care.
  • Treatment expertise. Doctors at Mayo Clinic have expertise treating people with ventricular tachycardia using cardiac ablation and other treatments.

    Mayo Clinic's campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota each offer a Heart Rhythm Clinic staffed by cardiologists trained in evaluating and treating heart rhythm disorders.

  • Research. Mayo Clinic doctors conduct research in new diagnostic tests and treatments for ventricular tachycardia and other heart rhythm disorders and conduct clinical trials.

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Mayo Clinic doctors trained in heart and blood vessel conditions (cardiologists), heart rhythm conditions (electrophysiologists), and other specialties evaluate your condition. Doctors at Mayo Clinic have extensive experience evaluating heart rhythm conditions (arrhythmias).

To diagnose ventricular tachycardia, your doctor may review your symptoms and your family and medical history, and conduct a physical examination.

Your doctor may order several tests to diagnose your condition, determine the cause and severity of your condition, and determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition. Ventricular tachycardia may be a medical emergency, and it may require an urgent diagnosis and prompt treatment.

Tests may include:

  • Electrophysiology tests. During an electrophysiology test, your doctors insert thin, flexible tubes (catheters) with electrodes at the tips in a blood vessel in your arm or groin and thread them through your blood vessels to several areas within your heart. Once in place, the electrodes precisely map the spread of electrical impulses throughout your heart.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). In an ECG, sensor patches with wires attached (electrodes) on your skin measure your heart's electrical impulses.
  • Echocardiogram. In this test, sound waves create detailed images of your heart's size, structure and motion.
  • Coronary angiogram. In this test, your doctor inserts a long, thin tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in your groin, arm or neck and threads it to your coronary arteries. Your doctor then injects a type of dye that's visible on X-ray through the catheter into your blood vessels. The dye shows the inside of your blood vessels and shows whether coronary artery disease is causing ventricular tachycardia.
  • Blood tests. Blood tests may be used to check thyroid hormone or potassium levels in your blood that may lead to ventricular tachycardia.
  • Stress test. During a stress test, you'll exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle — or take a drug that simulates heart activity during exercise — while an electrocardiogram or other tests monitor your heart activity.
  • Holter monitor. A Holter monitor is a portable ECG device that you wear for a day or more to record your heart's electrical activity during your daily routine.
  • Event monitor. An event monitor is a portable ECG device that you can activate when you experience symptoms of an arrhythmia. Some event monitors may activate when they sense an abnormal heart rhythm.

Mayo Clinic doctors trained in heart and blood vessel conditions (cardiologists) and heart rhythm conditions (electrophysiologists) have extensive experience in treating ventricular tachycardia and other arrhythmias.

The goals of ventricular tachycardia treatment include restoring your normal heart rhythm, regulating your heart rate and preventing blood clots. Your ventricular tachycardia treatment may include several options. Your treatment may also include treating an underlying condition that resulted in ventricular tachycardia, such as a heart attack or electrolyte disturbances.

Treatment may include:

  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). Doctors may implant an ICD under your skin below your collarbone. An ICD is a small device that sends electrical signals to your heart when your heart rate reaches a certain limit or goes very fast, to help regulate your heartbeat.
  • Cardiac ablation. In cardiac ablation, doctors insert thin, flexible tubes (catheters) through blood vessels in your neck, arm or groin and thread them through your blood vessels to your heart. Doctors then apply heat (radiofrequency energy) through the catheters to destroy the abnormal heart tissue causing your condition.
  • Pacemakers. Doctors may implant a small device (pacemaker) under your skin near your collarbone to help control and monitor your heart rhythm.
  • Cardioversion. Doctors may use an electrical shock or drugs to restore your normal heart rhythm.
  • Medications. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help slow your heart rate, regulate your heart rhythm or prevent blood clots.
  • Follow-up care. You'll receive follow-up care from doctors and other staff to monitor your heart rate. You may benefit from cardiac rehabilitation.

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Doctors trained in cardiovascular diseases and cardiovascular and thoracic surgery treat adults with ventricular tachycardia and other heart rhythm disorders at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Doctors trained in cardiovascular diseases and cardiothoracic surgery treat adults with ventricular tachycardia and other heart rhythm disorders at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Doctors trained in cardiovascular diseases and cardiovascular surgery treat adults and children with ventricular tachycardia and other heart rhythm disorders at Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Doctors trained in pediatric cardiology and cardiovascular surgery treat children with ventricular tachycardia or other heart rhythm disorders at Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota.

507-538-3270
7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic heart rhythm specialists study causes, new diagnostic tests and treatments for ventricular tachycardia and other heart rhythm disorders. Read more about research in the Cardiovascular Research Center.

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic authors on ventricular tachycardia on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Feb. 07, 2015