Severe Ventricular tachycardia

What Is Severe Ventricular Tachycardia?

Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is a condition where the heart's ventricles beat too quickly and can cause life-threatening complications. Severe ventricular tachycardia (SVT) is a type of VT that has a rapid, sustained heart rate of more than 150 beats per minute (BPM). It can cause chest pain, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and even death if not treated quickly.

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Causes and Risk Factors

SVT can be caused by several underlying conditions, including:

  • Structural Heart Disease: Certain underlying heart defects, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, can inherited or acquired heart abnormalities and blockages can cause SVT.
  • Ischemic Heart Disease: Narrowing or blockages in the arteries can often be a trigger for SVT.
  • Genetic Disorders: Rare inherited conditions, such as long QT Syndrome, catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, and Brugada Syndrome, can lead to SVT.
  • Electrolyte Imbalance: A low level of certain minerals, such as potassium and magnesium, in the blood can contribute to SVT.
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Heavy drinking can lead to SVT.
  • Stress and Caffeine: Intense physical and psychological stress can trigger an episode of SVT, as can excessive caffeine consumption.

Diagnosing Severe Ventricular Tachycardia

SVT is typically diagnosed by a doctor based on a physical exam, ECG, and patient history. In some cases, more invasive procedures, such as an angiogram or stress test, may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis of SVT.

Treatment Options

Treatment of SVT depends on the underlying cause. Treatments may include:

  • Medication: Medications, such as beta-blockers, anti-arrhythmics, and calcium channel blockers, may be prescribed to help slow down the heart rate.
  • Ablation: Ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which a small area of the heart tissue is destroyed in order to interrupt the electrical signals that cause SVT.
  • Implantable Devices: Implanted devices, such as pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, are used to regulate the heart's electrical activity in order to prevent episodes of SVT.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct structural abnormalities in the heart or to improve its function.

Prevention

It is important to take steps to reduce the risk of SVT. The following lifestyle changes can help:

  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Reduce stress with regular exercise and relaxation techniques.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine and nicotine.
  • Seek medical attention for any signs of chest pain or other symptoms of heart disease.