People with no heart disease and those with severe heart disease can develop ventricular tachycardia
What is ventricular tachycardia?
The lower two chambers of the heart are called ventricles, and they pump blood to the entire body via the main pulmonary artery and the aorta. When electrical signals within the ventricles cause the heart to beat too quickly, the condition is known as ventricular tachycardia (VT). People with no heart disease and those with severe heart disease can develop ventricular tachycardia.
Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are extra heartbeats that begin in one of the ventricles and occur in a large percentage of the population. Frequent episodes of PVCs need to be evaluated and treated because, left untreated, they can create a weak heart muscle over time. Ventricular tachycardia ablation is proving to be an effective treatment for PVCs.
How is ventricular tachycardia diagnosed?
In many cases, a primary care physician can identify ventricular tachycardia on an EKG or through other imaging studies. A cardiologist confirms the diagnosis, which generally leads to a consult with an electrophysiologist (EP), like we have here in our Dallas Heart Rhythm Center.
Ventricular tachycardia treatment options
The heart specialists at Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas offer several different ventricular tachycardia treatment options, including:
Ventricular tachycardia medications are generally the first treatment of choice for those with no underlying heart disease. If these ventricular tachycardia medications prove unsuccessful, a defibrillator may be used to detect when a person's heart is beating too fast and send a shock to return it to normal.
Defibrillators can either be worn externally or implanted under the person's skin as a ventricular tachycardia treatment option. Here at Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital - Dallas, we also use defibrillators for patients with advanced heart disease whose cardiac events have created damage to the inside or outside of the heart. These areas are often the sources of tachycardia.
Ventricular tachycardia ablation
Ventricular tachycardia ablation is a procedure used to mitigate or eliminate the ventricles' areas that are sources of erratic electrical signals that result in abnormally fast heartbeats. For those with no underlying heart disease, ventricular tachycardia ablation can be a proactive treatment that will prevent the person from having to use a defibrillator.
Minimally invasive ventricular tachycardia treatment
Here in our Dallas heart hospital, ventricular tachycardia ablation is a minimally invasive procedure using heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold (cryoablation) energy to scar or block the areas of tissue in the ventricle sending the electrical signals causing the VT. Catheters equipped with tiny electrodes are introduced through a vein in the groin, and the electrophysiologist here in our Dallas heart center carefully guides the catheters through the vein and into the heart. The electrodes record the heart's electrical activity and deliver the heat or cold to scar the areas causing tachycardia. If areas outside of the heart are contributing to tachycardia, the catheters are introduced through the lining of the pericardium—the fluid-filled sack surrounding the heart—to target the exterior areas for ventricular tachycardia ablation.
A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals here at Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas is involved in the ventricular tachycardia ablation procedure. Generally performed in a specially equipped electrophysiology surgical suite, the electrophysiologist heads the team, assisted by an anesthesiologist, 3D cardiac mappers, specially trained nurses and others. On average, ventricular tachycardia ablation takes between two and three hours to complete. Following an overnight stay in the hospital for observation, the patient is generally discharged home the next day. Follow-up appointments are scheduled with the electrophysiologist, and the patient's primary care physician will continue to monitor his or her heart health.
A leading center in North Texas for ventricular tachycardia treatment
Ventricular tachycardia ablation isn't the treatment of choice for everyone experiencing tachycardia. But when deciding where to seek treatment for VT in North Texas, it's good to know Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital – Dallas is one of the leading heart treatment centers in the region and performs around 10 ventricular tachycardia ablations per month. As proven by many other procedures, patients generally have good outcomes when receiving VT ablation at higher-volume centers with specially trained, experienced heart professionals.
"Before my procedure, 26% of my heartbeats were extra—that's 40,000 extra heartbeats per day. After my procedure, I have all this extra energy I didn't even know I had. My fatigue is gone and I get a good night's sleep."
- Chaz Hill, ventricular tachycardia ablation patient, Waxahachie, Texas.