Ventricular Tachycardia

Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) is a potentially lethal rhythm in which the ventricles have taken over pacemaking at a tachycardic rate. VT is characterized by wide QRS complexes at a rapid rate and regular rhythm.

EKG monitor simulation of Ventricular Tachycardia at a rate of 152bpm.
Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) EKG / ECG monitor capture (software gen.)

As the name implies, in Ventricular Tachycardia (VT, VTach) the ventricles themselves become the origin of electrical signals and generate them at a tachycardic rate. Since these electrical signals arise from random ventricular cells, they are outside of the hearts specialized conduction system and propagate slowly across tissue. The hallmark of this slow propagation is a wide (longer) QRS complex.

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Clinical Pearl:
Ventricular Tachycardia has two variants, VT with a pulse and VT without a pulse. Differentiation between the two cannot be made from an EKG tracing alone and a clinician must feel for a physical pulse when VT is present.
1:00 Ventricular Tachycardia monitor capture.

Once a tracing is identified as having a ventricular origin, wide QRS complexes, and a tachycardic rate, it can be called Ventricular Tachycardia. A Ventricular Tachycardia EKG is:

An EKG tracing showing a tachycardic rate with a ventricular origin (wide QRS Complex.)

Defining Characteristics of VTach in Lead II

A typical Ventricular Tachycardia EKG tracing.
A typical Ventricular Tachycardia EKG tracing.
  • Rate: > 99 | Generally > 150.
  • Rhythm: Regularly Regular | Equal R-R Intervals.
  • P Waves: Not present | Non-sinus origin.
  • P-R Intervals: N/A
  • QRS Complexes: > 0.12sec (3mm) [3 small boxes] | Wide.
  • Q-T Intervals†: Approx. 0.42sec (10.5mm) [10.5 small boxes].
  • T Waves: Present after every QRS Complex.

Q-T Intervals are variable with HR, age, and sex.

Software generated AFib EKG monitor capture with HR of 160.
A typical Atrial Fibrillation EKG monitor capture.
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EKG Vocabulary:
Ventricular Tachycardia is in the category of Wide Complex Tachycardia.

Rates of Ventricular Tachycardia

Being tachycardic, VT's rate must be at least 100bpm. As a generality, Ventricular Tachycardia tends to present at rates greater than 150bpm, but any rate over 100 qualifies.

VT ECG tracing with a rate of 146bpm.
Ventricular Tachycardia ECG tracing with a rate of 146bpm.

Expected Rhythm in VTach

Ventricular Tachycardia is a regularly regular rhythm. It has a steady and even beat like a metronome.

A Typical VTach ECG monitor capture with a regularly regular rhythm.
A Typical VTach ECG monitor capture with a regularly regular rhythm.

The QRS Complex in Ventricular Tachycardia

VT is a Wide Complex Tachycardia and as such is expected to have a wide (>12mm) [0.12sec] QRS complex. The specific morphology is dependent on exactly where in the ventricle the electrical signal is originating and will be different in every case. Below is an example tracing with wide QRS complexes highlighted in green.

Ventricular Tachycardia with wide QRS complexes highlighted in green.
Ventricular Tachycardia with wide QRS complexes highlighted in green.

Below are several more examples of Ventricular Tachycardia presented as monitor captures as well as on EGK graphs.

Ventricular Tachycardia practice EKG tracing.
Ventricular Tachycardia practice EKG tracing.
VTach practice EKG tracing.
VTach practice EKG tracing.
VT practice ECG tracing.
VT practice ECG tracing.

After becoming confident in identifying EKG's as Ventricular Tachycardia head back to our EKG Rhythm Index to find information on another ECG. Otherwise practice interpreting novel EKG's with our EKG Generator:

Basic EKG App

Our Basic EKG Generator is free with an email signup and covers Normal Sinus Rhythm along with common arrhythmia.

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Our Pro EKG Generator covers over 40 different rhythm categories, multiple display options, has Quiz and Simulation modes, and more! Try it out for just $5 for a month.