Medicines (such as lidocaine, procainamide, sotalol, or amiodarone) given through a vein
After an episode of VT, steps are taken to further episodes.
Medicines taken by mouth may be needed for long-term treatment. However, these drugs may have severe side effects. They are being used less often as other treatments are developed.
A procedure to destroy the heart tissue that is causing the abnormal heartbeat (called ablation) may be done.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) may be recommended. It is an implanted device that detects any life-threatening, rapid heartbeat. This abnormal heartbeat is called an arrhythmia. If it occurs, the ICD quickly sends an electrical shock to the heart to change the rhythm back to normal. This is called defibrillation.
The outcome depends on the heart condition and symptoms.
Ventricular tachycardia may not cause symptoms in some people. However, it can be deadly. It is a major cause of sudden cardiac death.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have a rapid, irregular pulse, faint, or have chest pain. All of these may be signs of ventricular tachycardia.
In some cases, the disorder cannot be prevented. In other cases, it can be prevented by treating heart problems and avoiding certain medicines.
Al-Khatib SM, Stevenson WG, Ackerman MJ, et al. 2017 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for management of patients with ventricular arrhythmias and the prevention of sudden cardiac death: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on clinical practice guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society [published correction appears in J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;72(14):1760]. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;72(14):1677-1749. PMID: 29097294 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29097294/.
Epstein EF, DiMarco JP, Ellenbogen KA, Estes NA 3rd, et al. 2012 ACCF/AHA/HRS focused update incorporated into the ACCF/AHA/HRS 2008 guidelines for device-based therapy of cardiac rhythm abnormalities: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013;661(3):e6-75. PMID: 23265327 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23265327/.
Micaela Iantorno, MD, MSc, FAHA, RPVI, Interventional Cardiologist at Mary Washington Hospital Center, Fredericksburg, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.