Medical Definition of Tachycardia, ventricular

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

Tachycardia, ventricular: An abnormally rapid heart rhythm that originates from a ventricle, one of the lower chambers of the heart. Although the beat is regular, ventricular tachycardia is life-threatening because it can lead to a dreaded condition, ventricular fibrillation.

In ventricular fibrillation, the ventricles beat rapidly in a chaotic, purposeless fashion. The heart cannot pump blood effectively to the body. If untreated, ventricular fibrillation can be fatal within minutes, or even seconds. An estimated 250,000 Americans die in this way each year.

Ventricular tachycardia is most commonly associated with heart attacks or scarring of the heart muscle from a previous heart attack.

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Reviewed on 9/7/2018