What are ventricular arrhythmias?

They are abnormal electrical signals in the bottom chambers of the heart that cause it to beat too fast and out of synchronization.

Ventricular arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms that start in one of the bottom chambers of the heart called the ventricals. Ventricular tachycardia (VT) can occur in the right ventrical or the left ventrical. VT occurs most frequently in patients who have experienced prior cardiac issues, such as a heart attack or due to heart failure. The resulting scar tissue in the heart muscle can then cause rhythm problems. VT is a rhythm problem that can cause people to faint, and is a significant cause of sudden cardiac death. Patients with VT usually experience heart palpitations and fluttering, dizziness, fainting, and some even experience cardiac arrest.

KCHRI also specializes in the treatment of premature ventricular complexes (PVCs). PVCs are extra heartbeats originating in the lower chambers, or ventricals, of the heart. Patients often feel these extra heartbeats as additional flutters or palpitations. Those extra heartbeats can cause the heart to lose synchrony which can lead to weakening of the heart muscle and heart failure. Early identification of PVCs will help prevent the development of heart failure.

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How do you treat ventricular tachycardia?

KCHRI offers many treatment options for ventricular tachycardia. When we see patients with ventricular tachycardia (VT), our primary goal is to prevent it from happening again. One of the most common procedures is implantation of a defibrillator which can detect this particular tachycardia and treat the patient. We also offer medications and/or invasive procedures such as ablation. Because medication options are often limited, we have found that catheter ablation positively affects outcomes for these patients. For the catheter ablation procedure, we create a high-density electrical map of the heart, and then put these patients into VT to identify the precise location of the issue. Once we pinpoint it using GPS technology, we insert the ablation catheter to destroy the improper cells causing the rhythm problems. Multiple studies have shown that early performance of this procedure results in better long-term care and outcomes for these patients.

While some patients have a scar that forms on the inside surface of the heart, there are some conditions that lead to scar development on the outside surface of the heart. In that case, we have epicardial ablation techniques targeting the outside surface of the heart to address those abnormalities.

Premature ventricular complexes (PVCs) can be treated with medications or surgery. We can perform an ablation procedure where we map the heart and identify the exact location of the abnormal heart beats. We then selectively target the abnormal area(s), preserving the normal ventricular activity of the heart. This procedure has very good success rates resulting in significant improvement in the patient’s quality of life.