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Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) Ablation

Ventricular tachycardia (VT) occurs when electrical signals in the heart cause the lower chambers to beat too rapidly, resulting in an erratic heartbeat. Some forms of this condition can be treated through a procedure called VT ablation, which has been successful in patients with heart failure and structural heart disease.  

What Conditions Can Be Treated With VT Ablation? 

Ventricular tachycardia causes the heart to beat faster than normal, usually more than 100 beats per minute (60 to 100 beats is considered normal when at rest). This prevents the heart’s chambers from properly filling with blood, and the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body and lungs.  

VT episodes can often be controlled through medication or the implantation of a cardio-defibrillator that can deliver a shock when needed to restore a normal heartbeat. In cases where the condition is being caused by a faulty electrical pathway, VT ablation might be the recommended treatment option.  

VT Ablation Details 

The goal of this procedure is to create scars in the heart tissue that block the abnormal electrical signals that are causing ventricular tachycardia, thereby restoring a normal heart rhythm. This is accomplished by inserting a catheter through a vein in the groin, arm or neck and guiding the catheter to the heart. Once in place, the catheter will utilize either heat (radiofrequency energy) or extreme cold (cryoablation) to create small scars that block the abnormal heartbeat.  

VT ablation can be done inside or outside the heart, depending on the area where the abnormal heartbeat is originating. If the issue is outside the heart, the catheter may be inserted through the chest. 

What to Expect With VT Ablation 

This procedure is performed using a sedative or anesthesia and can take from three to six hours to complete. Most patients see an improvement in their quality of life following VT ablation, as their stamina may improve. For patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), they may see a reduction in the number of shocks their heart receives. However, this may only be a temporary solution, as the abnormal heart rhythm may eventually return.  

How Effective is VT Ablation? 

VT ablation is highly effective at suppressing ventricular tachycardia in patients with structural heart disease, though outcomes can vary based on the underlying causes of the patient’s condition.  

Tampa General’s Heart & Vascular Institute is a world-class, comprehensive cardiovascular care program. Our electrophysiologists and heart failure specialists perform a full spectrum of advanced ablative therapy for life-threatening ventricular tachycardia.