“Ventricular Tachycardia After Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery?” Asks Rita
Together, as patients and caregivers, we’ve learned that the human heart can do some odd things after valve repair and valve replacement surgery. In particular, the heart can pound a little louder, the heart can beat a little faster and, if you received a mechanical valve replacement, the heart might make a clicking noise.
That said, I just received an interesting question from Rita specific to very fast heart rates after heart valve surgery.
She writes, “Hi Adam – I have a question. Has anyone had ventricular tachycardia after mitral valve replacement. For ten months, I’ve been telling the doctors about the episodes I’m having. Finally, an episode was caught on EKG while I was on treadmill. They are now going to do an EP study and possible ablation. The doctors are looking for scarring among other things. Plus, the doctors may also look to see if anything is genetic. The VTAC episodes are really scary to say the least. Have any patients on your awesome blog experienced this? I would love to hear the outcome. I had atrial fibrillation after surgery. Now, I am wondering if it was VTAC the whole time? Thanks, Rita”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, ventricular tachycardia is a fast heart rate (usually over 100 beats per minute) caused most often by disease or injury, according to the American Heart Association. It can also be part of a normal response to increased activity or oxygen demands. The average heart beats between 60 and 100 times per minute. When the tachycardia is due to disease or injury, it usually requires treatment. Tachycardias may begin in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) or the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles). Some are harmless, but others are life threatening.
So you know, I did not experience any form of ventricular tachycardia (also known as VTAC) during my recovery from aortic valve replacement. (To learn more about AVR, please click here.)
As for research about VTAC and mitral valve replacement, I just spent some time looking through online medical journals. Unfortunately, I found very few studies which correlated ventricular tachycardia directly to heart valve replacement surgery.
However, in New Onset Of Sustained Ventricular Tachycardia After Cardiac Surgery, a study which reviewed VTAC and coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), the medical team concluded, “The first presentation of sustained monomorphic VT in the recovery period after CABG is uncommon, but the incidence is high in specific clinical subsets.” So, it appears there is some connection to heart surgery – but, nothing specific to mitral valve replacement.
With that… I will turn it over to the former heart valve surgery patients regularly visit this blog. Can you help Rita? Did you experience any form of VTAC after surgery? If so, please leave a comment below.
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.