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What Is Ventricular Response?

The ventricles at the base of the heart receive blood from the atria above.
A doctor will be able to assess ventricular response using an EKG.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2014
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Ventricular response is the adjustment of ventricular rhythm to compensate for changing environmental conditions or in response to a problem in the heart. The heart constantly adjusts to meet the needs of the body, and sometimes a chain reaction can occur where a minor heart issue becomes a major one because the chambers of the heart get out of synch or overreact to a problem. A doctor can assess ventricular response with tools like an electrocardiogram (ECG) or echocardiogram of the heart to track electrical impulses and visualize the heart's action.

The ventricles of the heart receive blood from the atria and expel it to the lungs and the rest of the body. When a patient has a need for increased circulation, as during exercise when she needs more oxygenation, the heart will step up efforts to meet the need. Part of this includes a ventricular response, where the heart may increase the volume of blood pumped with each beat, and can also coordinate the chambers to beat more quickly to increase the circulation.

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Another type of ventricular response can occur in response to chronic disease and issues like mitral regurgitation. Over time, strain on the heart caused by disease can thicken the walls of the atria and ventricles. They may become weaker, and could have to work harder to provide the same amount of blood. This can expose the patient to the risk of complications, including cardiac arrest. Treatment options can include mechanical pacing to control the heart rate, surgery to treat a problem, or medications to address issues like chronic hypertension.

In a cardiac event like atrial fibrillation, where the rhythm of the heart is disrupted, a ventricular response will occur. It may be categorized as rapid or slow, depending on how it looks on an ECG. The doctor will need to control not just the fibrillation, but also the ventricular response, to get the patient's heart beating normally. Magnesium may be given to control the heart, and the patient could also need artificial pacing with an internal or external device to regulate heart rhythm.

Some natural variation occurs from patient to patient, and ventricular response to conditions like exercising can vary. Some patients may increase their ejection fraction, for example, while others may not. In situations where heart health is poor, separating out aspects of the heart rhythm can help a doctor decide on the most appropriate treatment to control the patient's heart and prevent complications.

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