Idiopathic Ventricular Tachycardia

Annual Review of Medicine

Vol. 50:159-177 (Volume publication date February 1999)


Most ventricular tachycardias encountered in clinical practice occur in patients who have structural heart disease. Idiopathic ventricular tachycardia refers to those arrhythmias that occur in patients without structural heart disease, metabolic/electrolyte abnormalities, or the long QT syndrome. Three commonly recognized forms of idiopathic ventricular tachycardia include: (a) ventricular tachycardia associated with mitral valve prolapse, (b) ventricular tachycardia originating from the right ventricular outflow tract, and (c) ventricular tachycardia originating from the left ventricle. Recently, a fourth type of idiopathic ventricular tachycardia, termed the Brugada syndrome, has been identified as responsible for some cases of cardiac arrest in persons without apparent structural heart disease. Each form of ventricular tachycardia may be considered a discrete syndrome based on its electrocardiographic characteristics, mechanisms, responses to pharmacologic intervention, and prognosis (good in most cases). Ventricular tachycardias range from the common to the exotic, but all represent syndromes with which the internist and general cardiologist should be familiar.