Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia: Terminology, Mechanism, Diagnosis, and Emergency Therapy

Circulation. 2021 Sep 7;144(10):823-839. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.055783. Epub 2021 Sep 7.


Polymorphic ventricular tachyarrhythmias are highly lethal arrhythmias. Several types of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia have similar electrocardiographic characteristics but have different modes of therapy. In fact, medications considered the treatment of choice for one form of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, are contraindicated for the other. Yet confusion about terminology, and thus diagnosis and therapy, continues. We present an in-depth review of the different forms of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia and propose a practical step-by-step approach for distinguishing these malignant arrhythmias.

Keywords: Brugada syndrome; quinidine; tachycardia, ventricular; torsade de pointes; ventricular fibrillation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Electrocardiography / methods
  • Emergency Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Long QT Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Long QT Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / diagnosis
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / physiopathology*
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / therapy*