Ventricular Tachycardia Secondary to Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary Artery Disease

Coronary artery disease is a medical condition in which plaque deposits within the inner wall of the coronary arteries. The plaque is made of a collection of cholesterol, white blood cells, and coating of calcium that has caused it to harden. As the plaque grows inside of the wall, it is then referred to as atherosclerosis.

A problem develops as time goes by because the growing atherosclerotic plaque will bulge into the lumen of the coronary artery. This can cause a reduced blood flow to the artery. Yet the coronary arteries are small arteries that are responsible for supplying blood to the heart. Therefore, as atherosclerosis develops within the wall of these arteries, the blood supply can be significantly reduced. This may lead to a variety of situations such as angina or a myocardial infarction because there is reduced oxygen rich blood getting to the tissues.

There are various risk factors for coronary artery disease such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and smoking.

Ventricular Tachycardia

Ventricular tachycardia is an increase in the heart rate at more than 100 beats per minute. It is commonly associated with ischemic heart disease. Ischemia is the condition in which the tissue suffers from a reduced blood supply. Therefore, ventricular tachycardia is one of the ways the body speeds up the amount of blood coming to the heart after the person experiences ischemia.

In the presence of ventricular tachycardia, the heart will be pumping blood at a faster rate, but the rate of output of blood is actually reduced. This is because the heart is not given proper time before heart contractions to properly output blood. This can further worsen a bad situation if the tachycardia is a result of the heart suffering from ischemic heart disease.

Other than an increased heart rate, the main signs and symptoms of tachycardia include difficulty breathing, a fullness in the neck, pain in the chest, anxiety, lightheadedness and fainting.

Ventricular Tachycardia Secondary to Coronary Artery Disease

One of the main causes of ventricular tachycardia is coronary artery disease. Therefore, ventricular tachycardia secondary to coronary artery disease occurs as the lumen of the artery becomes occluded, resulting in the body trying to compensate by increasing the rate in which the heart pumps blood. Therefore the heart rate will increase as a compensatory measure to the decrease blood supply the heart muscle is experiencing. The worsening coronary artery disease can lead to a further increase in ventricular tachycardia.

The risk factors for ventricular tachycardia secondary to coronary artery disease will go up as the person gets older. This is because the prevalence of coronary artery disease also increases as people age.

Treatment

As the ventricular tachycardia secondary to coronary artery disease is not the main cause, the underlying cause should be treated. Treatment would be centered on improving the flow of blood through the coronary arteries. This would include the use of dietary changes and reducing other risk factors. In some cases, the person may need to undergo surgery such as angioplasty to unblock and repair the coronary arteries.

References

eMedicine: Ventricular Tachycardia

National Heart Lung Blood Institute: What Causes Coronary Artery Disease