Ventricular Tachycardia Treatment Overview

Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormally fast arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is the preferred treatment for patients with the chronic (long-term) form of this arrhythmia.

What Is Ventricular Tachycardia?

Ventricular tachycardia is characterized by a fast, steady heart rhythm coming from one of the bottom chambers (ventricles) of the heart. Sometimes only a few of these fast beats occur and then the heart returns to a normal rhythm. However, when the abnormal rhythm lasts more than 30 seconds, it is called sustained ventricular tachycardia. This type of ventricular tachycardia can be the result of a serious heart disease and can be life-threatening.

Ventricular Tachycardia Treatment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at our state-of-the-art Shapiro Cardiovascular Center is an internationally recognized leader in the evaluation and treatment of arrhythmias, a condition which affects millions of people each year.

Treatment for ventricular tachycardia, when it isn’t life threatening, usually involves medications and addressing the underlying cause. However, patients with prior heart attacks, moderately reduced heart function, or symptomatic congestive heart failure can benefit from an ICD, a small electronic device that can prevent sudden death.

Similar to a pacemaker, an ICD is implanted under the skin, most often in the shoulder area just under the collarbone. An ICD senses the rate of the heartbeat. When the heart rate exceeds a rate programmed into the device, it delivers a small electrical shock to the heart to slow the heart rate. ICDs are typically used for fast arrhythmias such as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. Newer ICDs can also function as a pacemaker by delivering an electrical signal to regulate a heart rate that is too slow (bradycardia).

Cardiovascular Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

The Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center at BWH is one of the most advanced centers of its kind in the New England region. Bringing together the full range of cardiovascular services in one building, the Center provides the technology and infrastructure to enable seamless and coordinated care for all cardiovascular patients.

Patient- and Family-focused Care

BWH has long been committed to not only the care of our patients, but also the many other needs that they and their families have. This philosophy of patient- and family-focused care – involving systems and services that emphasize healing in a comfortable, relaxed environment – is a guiding force behind the care we provide at the Shapiro Center.

Quality of Patient Care

BWH is committed to providing all of our patients with the safest, highest-quality, most-satisfying care possible and follow established protocols that have been shown to improve patient outcomes. Our Inpatient Satisfaction Survey, sent to patients’ to assess their total care experience, helps us to monitor what we are doing well and areas for improvement. We pride ourselves in the Quality of Patient Care we provide and how we compare with other hospitals.

Brigham and Women’s Cardiac Surgery Team

Our cardiac surgery team of physicians, nurses, physician’s assistants, and staff work closely with colleagues in cardiology, vascular surgery, cardiovascular imaging, and nursing to deliver safe, effective, and compassionate care to every patient.

Contact Us

If you believe you should have an evaluation and would like to schedule an appointment with one of our cardiac surgery experts, call 1-800-294-9999 to speak to one of our knowledgeable coordinators who can help to connect you to the doctor that best meets your needs, or fill out an online appointment request form.

Learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital

For over a century, a leader in patient care, medical education and research, with expertise in virtually every specialty of medicine and surgery.

About BWH