happens when there is an abnormal
connection between the atria and the
ventricles. This is often seen in people who
have Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
If you have AVNRT or AVRT, you may need to be
referred to a specialist centre for more detailed
tests and treatment.
Ventricular tachycardia is a condition where there
is an abnormally fast rate – between 120 and 200
beats a minute – in the ventricles (the two lower
chambers of the heart). This may be caused
by increased activity of the electrical impulses to
This condition usually happens as a complication of
a heart condition, but it is also sometimes seen in
otherwise healthy people. The attacks may last for
just a few seconds or minutes, or may continue for
some hours. The first symptoms may be faintness,
or fast, regular palpitations with breathlessness and
sometimes chest pain. An electrocardiogram
(ECG) will show whether it is ventricular tachycardia or another type of abnormal heart rhythm
Anyone with symptoms needs to get medical
help immediately as it might be necessary to
have an injection, or an electric shock
(cardioversion), to stop the attack. However,
many attacks of ventricular tachycardia do stop
on their own.
Your doctor may give you a drug to help prevent
future attacks. You may need to have an
electrophysiological study to help your doctors
plan the best way of managing your tachycardia.
This test is described on page 22.
If the drugs are not effective and you continue to
have frequent attacks, your doctor may suggest
another form of treatment. This could be one of
• Having an ICD implanted. ICD stands for
implantable cardioverter defibrillator. An ICD
continually monitors your heart rhythm and
delivers an electrical impulse or shock
whenever you have a ventricular tachycardia
attack, and returns the heart to its normal
• Catheter ablation therapy, which identifies and
removes or destroys the affected area which is
causing the abnormal rhythm.
These treatments a are described on pages 25-28.
The choice of treatment depends on your
condition. However, these treatments are not
suitable for everyone.