Ventricular Arrhythmias

         Basic Facts

  • An arrhythmia is an abnormality or disturbance in the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.
  • Arrhythmias are caused by problems with the heart’s electrical system, such as abnormal formation of the electrical impulses that begin heartbeats or by a disruption of the pattern of conduction of those impulses.
  • Ventricular arrhythmias are abnormalities that affect these ventricles, or lower chambers of the heart.
  • Ventricular arrhythmias are often more serious than other arrhythmias. They can lead patients to pass out, as well as cause sudden death.

An arrhythmia is a change in the heart’s normal rate or rhythm. Typically, the heart beats with a regular rhythm at a rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Problems with the heart’s electrical system or the heart’s response to the electrical signal can interrupt the heart’s coordination and cause arrhythmias.

There are two types of ventricular arrhythmias, disorders of impulse generation and disorders of impulse conduction. With disorders of impulse generation, the heart beat originates in a place other than the sino-atrial node, the heart’s natural pacemaker. With disorders of impulse generation, the electrical impulses are partially or completely prevented from traveling their normal pathway.

Ventricular arrhythmias include:

  • Premature ventricular complexes (PVCs), which are premature heartbeats,
  • Ventricular tachycardia, an abnormally fast heartbeat that originates in the upper chambers of the heart, and
  • Ventricular fibrillation, in which the heart quivers rather than contracts (a medical emergency).

Ventricular Arrhythmias FAQ