A ventricular rhythm (VA) refers to an abnormal heart rhythm that starts in the ventricles. These are the lower chambers of the heart. It could be too fast or uncoordinated to allow the heart to function properly. VA is a serious medical condition that requires immediate treatment.
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A monitor or electrocardiogram is required to diagnose VA. Once the doctor has determined the type of VA, they can create a treatment plan that includes a combination of drugs, devices or procedures to stop the arrhythmia.
What is ventricular arrhythmia and how can it be treated?
Healthy hearts beat to a steady rhythm. The heartbeat is maintained by the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) and the atria, which are the upper chambers of the heart. They work together to ensure that oxygen-rich blood continues to flow to all organs and tissues in the body.
The left ventricle pumps blood out of the body through the aorta. The blood is pumped to the lungs by the right ventricle, which exchanges carbon dioxide with oxygen before returning to your heart.
What are the different types of ventricular arrhythmias?
Ventricular Tachycardia (VT), an abnormally fast rhythm of the heart (more than 100 beats/minute) that begins in the ventricles, is known as Ventricular Tachycardia. Each episode can last for several hours or a few seconds. The heart beat is so rapid that the ventricles have no time to contract with each heartbeat. Therefore, less blood is pumped to the body.
Ventricular fibrillation (VFib), a condition where the ventricles contract and relax in a steady, robust manner, is called Ventricular Fibrillation. VFib can also affect the ability of the heart to pump enough blood to support the body’s needs.
People with long QT syndrome are more likely to experience Torsades des pointes. QT interval refers to the time it takes for an electrical signal activate the ventricles, then recharge. Long QT syndrome is characterized by a prolonged recharging period (which is also the vulnerable time) that causes irregular, rapid heartbeats. Torsades of pointes, which in French means “twisting the points”, means that the ventricles beat too fast and are not in sync with their atria. Also, the cells are not in sync with one another.
What are the symptoms for ventricular arrhythmia (ventricular arrhythmia)?
VA symptoms are similar to other arrhythmias. You may not notice a change in the rhythm of your heartbeat in a mild case. If trouble does develop, signs and symptoms can include:
- racing heart
- fluttering heartbeats
- chest pain
- It is important to sweat
- Breathing difficulty
How can ventricular arrhythmia be diagnosed?
An electrocardiogram (ECG), which measures the electrical activity of the heart, is usually required to diagnose VA. To make a final diagnosis, there are other tests and tools. These include:
- A review of symptoms including their start and duration.
- A medical history is required to determine the causes of heart disease.
A physical exam is where your doctor listens to your heart and checks your pulse. Also, your doctor will check for swelling in your lower limbs. This could be a sign of a larger heart or heart disease.
Blood tests are done to determine your electrolytes levels (potassium and calcium). These electrolytes can affect the heart’s function.
Event monitors or Holter, also known as event monitors, are wearable devices that detect changes in heart rhythm over time.
Echocardiogram uses sound waves to create moving images of your heart.
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What are the treatments for ventricular arrhythmia
VA treatment depends on many factors, including the type of arrhythmia and your age. VA may require immediate treatment for acute symptoms but may also need long-term care to manage chronic symptoms.
These are the three most popular types of treatment:
Sometimes, medications that keep the heart beating in a normal rhythm can be used as a single treatment. However, they may also be prescribed with additional therapies.
The following medications can be used to treat VAs:
- ranolazine (Ranexa)
- amiodarone (Pacerone, Nexterone)
- Sotalol (Betapace).
The Journal of Arrhythmia published a study that found ranolazine could be effective in reducing VA in patients with various cardiac conditions including long QT syndrome.
Research shows that amiodarone is effective but poorly tolerated by people with VA. Sotalol, on the other hand, is generally well tolerated and may be of limited effectiveness.
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A VA episode may be stopped by medication. Long-term treatment may be possible with medications.