Unlike abnormalities of atrial rhythm, ventricular arrhythmias are abnormal heart rhythms which occur in the stronger muscular chambers of the heart called the ventricles. These rhythm disorders can be extremely sinister and ventricular fibrillation is a life-threatening heart rhythm disturbance.
Ventricular arrhythmias can occur from poor blood supply to the ventricular muscles, especially during or following a heart attack. Cardiomyopathy is a disorder of the ventricles which can also produce ventricular rhythm disorders. Sometimes, ventricular arrhythmias can occur in seemingly normal hearts in which abnormalities of cardiac conduction exists.
There are three main types of ventricular arrhythmia:
Premature Ventricular Contractions: this is a condition where the ventricle(s) beat in an un-sustained pattern with periods of normality in between. These disturbances can produce breathlessness, uncomfortable palpitations, and over time, changes in the structure of the heart.
Ventricular Tachycardia: this is a condition where the premature ventricular contractions occur in a sustained manner which can be life threatening.
Ventricular Fibrillation: this is a rapid, disorganised pattern of ventricular contraction which will very quickly lead to sudden death without emergency treatment.
Palpitations may be the only symptom that you experience with ventricular arrhythmias. Other symptoms include breathlessness, and chest pain. If you experience “extra” or “missed” heart beats in association with dizziness or loss of consciousness, you should be investigated urgently for the existence of abnormal ventricular heart rhythms.
Once the diagnosis of ventricular rhythm disorders is made, the clinical team at The Keyhole Heart Clinic can quickly ascertain the correct treatment options for you.
Drugs can be used in certain situations with the use of antiarrhythmic drugs. In addition, underlying causes such as ischaemic heart disease (poor blood supply to the heart muscle) should be addressed.