Life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias

Life-threatening Ventricular Arrhythmias

Ventricular arrhythmias are a type of dangerous abnormal heart rhythm that arises from the lower chambers of the heart, known as the ventricles. Common ventricular arrhythmias include ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation (VF). Both VT and VF can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.

Ventricular tachycardia is characterized by a rapid heart rate that originates from the lower chambers of the heart. During VT, the heart may beat between 100 and 250 times per minute. This rapid heart rate can cause the heart to become very weak, leading to cardiac arrest or sudden death.

Ventricular fibrillation is a serious form of ventricular arrhythmia where the heart's lower chambers quiver rapidly instead of beating. During VF, the heart cannot pump blood and the lack of blood circulation causes unconsciousness and death within minutes if the heart is not restarted with a procedure known as defibrillation.

Treatments for life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias usually involve medicines, such as anti-arrhythmic drugs or pacemakers, or procedures, such as electrical or chemical cardioversion. Cardiac ablation may also be used for some cases. This procedure uses radiofrequency energy or extreme cold to ablate (destroy) small areas of the heart tissue where the impulse of the irregular electrical activity originates.

For some people, prevention strategies should be taken to reduce the risk of developing ventricular arrhythmias. Risk factors known to increase the chance of developing VT and VF include a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, alcohol abuse, and family history. Additionally, some common drugs used to treat heart rhythm problems, such as anti-arrhythmic drugs, can increase the risk of developing ventricular arrhythmias.

If you are experiencing symptoms of ventricular arrhythmias, such as dizziness, lightheadedness, and/or chest pain, contact your doctor immediately. Life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias can lead to cardiac arrest or sudden death if left untreated.