Our hearts are generally split into two lower and upper chambers. Simply put the latter receives incoming blood, while the lower ones (namely the ventricles) provide the muscular force to take it from the heart to the rest of your body or lungs. When you have a problem with the ventricles, this can lead to a condition called ventricular tachycardia. Today, we delve deeper to understand what it is, how it comes about, and the possibility of recovery (prognosis). 

How venticular tachycardia occurs & diagnostic strategy

In cases of tachycardia, the heart generally beats faster than normal. This can arise due to irregular heart rhythms called arrhythmia. When the source of this arrhythmia is the ventricles, then we call the condition ventricular tachycardia. 

Some of the signs that a patient may have this condition include: 

  • Accelerated heartbeat (usually over 100 bpm)
  • Fainting spells
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Palpitations and so on.

That being said, the most accurate way to diagnose ventricular tachycardia, among other arrhythmias, is via comprehensive ECG testing. In these readings, the technician will generally be looking for AV dissociation, the absence of LBBB/RBBB morphologies, and extremely wide complexes, among other abnormalities.

The causes of ventricular tachycardia 

Ventricular tachycardia, or VT for short, many times usually occurs as a result of some other heart problem like cardiomyopathy and ischemic, structural, and coronary heart diseases. In some cases, the condition can also occur due to genetic predispositions, with VT inherited across a bloodline. One common type of such ventricular tachycardia is that with long QT syndromes.

Those aside, here are a few other common causes of ventricular tachycardia: 

  • Electrolyte imbalances – Sometimes, drinking too much water or too little of it can disturb the balance between electrolytes in the body. This can lead to inadequate potassium and magnesium levels, which can contribute to causing AT.  
  • Blood pH – When your blood pH drops too low or rises too high, the long-term effect is that the aorta (the blood vessel that carries blood from the left ventricle to the body) and other blood vessels lose elasticity. So the heart has to work harder to pump blood. 
  • Obesity – The body’s nutrient and oxygen demands increase with an increase in mass, causing the heart to generate more pressure to meet this heightened demand. This is how obesity can lead to VT. Moreover, fat deposits can also reinforce blood vessel walls, making them more rigid.
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It can also arise due to the heavy intake of caffeine, alcohol, cocaine, and recreational drugs and stimulants. The condition qualifies to be called idiopathic ventricular tachycardia if physicians are unable to determine the exact cause of the condition. 

Prognosis of left ventricular hypertrophy – Discussing recovery & treatment 

When there’s no permanent factor at play such as no apparent heart disease behind the condition, it’s possible that you may be able to reverse left ventricular hypertrophy. 

  • For example, if the LVH was brought about by obesity, then losing weight can help to reduce blood pressure and alleviate the strain on the left ventricle. Over time, this can eventually decrease its mass to help reverse the condition. 

Other common treatment & recovery options also include: 

  • Medication usage– such as ACE inhibitors, among other drugs that can cause blood pressure to drop by dilating stiff vessels. In turn, this can alleviate the burden on the ventricles.
  • Corrective surgery – Physicians may choose to perform surgery, with one of the common types being VT ablation. This involves creating scars in the heart to help restore normal function by obstructing problematic signals behind overly fast rhythms.
  • Cardiac implants – It’s also commonplace for cardiac implants such as an ICD, or implantable cardioverter defibrillator, to be used to help reset the heart rhythm whenever it picks up an incidence of an abnormally fast rhythm.
  • Lifestyle changes – Simple lifestyle changes like observing proper hydration, maintaining a balanced diet, and cutting down on alcohol/drug consumption, can also go a long way toward enabling recovery from ventricular tachycardia. 
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In some scenarios, VT can be a symptom of some other condition that the patient has. It is therefore prudent to figure out what causes this problem and address that issue because addressing VT as this will be like treating a symptom rather than the underlying disease. 

Parting shot – Life expectancy with VT

Ventricular tachycardia itself may not be fatal as it is, however, when left unaddressed, it can exacerbate heart problems and open the door for various cardiac disorders that can be life-threatening. Overall, arrhythmias have a 20% mortality risk within the first two years if appropriate medical attention is delayed. If you suspect that you have VT or some other arrhythmia or are a healthcare facility looking for a way to bolster your arrhythmia diagnostic processes, be sure to visit the Cardiac Rhythm website today.