Ventricular Tachycardia (VT)

People with Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) usually feel very unwell. Symptoms include having palpitations, dizziness, breathlessness and sometimes chest pain. It can also cause sweating, nausea or collapsing.

An episode of VT can start and stop suddenly and may last for just a few seconds or minutes, or it may continue for longer. Some episodes do stop on their own. For VT which doesn’t stop on its own, the person needs to be treated very quickly. VT can cause the blood pressure to fall dangerously low, and the person can go into cardiac arrest.

VT usually happens when someone has an underlying heart condition, such as a cardiomyopathy, or damage to the heart muscle caused by a heart attack. Less commonly, VT can happen in people who haven’t got damage to their heart muscle, but who are at risk of developing ventricular arrhythmias. This is usually because they have inherited a certain condition.

Treatment The treatment aims to stop the VT, both to reduce the person’s symptoms and to prevent a cardiac arrest.

If you are very unwell, immediate treatment usually includes intravenous (through a vein) anti-arrhythmic medicines, or electrical cardioversion, or both.

In the longer term, treatment can include anti-arrhythmic medicines, or possibly catheter ablation treatment. You may need to have an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), depending on what caused the VT and the underlying condition of your heart.