My patient just had a run of ventricular tachycardia (VT) at a rate of 120 beats/min lasting 18 seconds without any symptoms. Does this arrhythmia meet the criteria for nonsustained VT (NSVT) and what is its significance?

Although NSVT is often defined as 3 (sometimes 5) or more consecutive beats arising below the atrioventricular node with a heart rate >100 beats/min lasting <30 s, this definition is not universal. Other definitions of NSVT include >120 beats/min using a duration cutoff of 15 s,  or at times no strictly defined diagnostic criteria1.  

NSVT can be observed in a variety of individuals, ranging from apparently healthy people to those with significant heart disease.  Whether NSVT provokes sustained life-threatening arrhythmias or is merely a surrogate marker of a more severe underlying cardiac pathology is unclear in most clinical settings 1

Because our patient  meets the generally observed criteria for NSVT, we should exclude an underlying occult pathology responsible for the arrhythmia and, in the case of known cardiac disease,  risk-stratify the patient for appropriate management2.  

The prognostic significance of NSVT is heavily influenced by the type and severity of underlying heart disease.  Patients with NSVT in the setting of >24 h post-acute myocardial infarction and those with chronic ischemic heart disease with left ventricular ejection fraction <40%  have a less desirable prognosis2. The management of patients with NSVT is generally aimed at treating the underlying heart disease.

References

  1. Katritsis DG, Zareba W, Camm AJ. Nonsustained ventricular tachycardia. J Am Coll Cardiol 2012;60:1993-2004.
  2. Katritisis DG, Camm AJ. Nonsustained ventricular tachycardia: where do we stand? Eur Heart J 2004;25:1093-1099.
My patient just had a run of ventricular tachycardia (VT) at a rate of 120 beats/min lasting 18 seconds without any symptoms. Does this arrhythmia meet the criteria for nonsustained VT (NSVT) and what is its significance?

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