How is Ventricular Fibrillation Diagnosed?


Ventricular fibrillation (V-fib) is an emergency that can occur with little to no warning. If you see someone collapse and become unresponsive, call 911 immediately and see if there is an automatic external defibrillator (AED) nearby.

Tests to confirm V-fib are performed following a person’s resuscitation. These may include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) - An ECG can measure the electrical activity of the heart, which can help doctors measure the heart’s ability to function following an episode of V-fib
  • Echocardiogram - A test that uses ultrasound to measure the heart’s structure and size
  • Blood tests - Can measure enzymes in the blood that leak into the bloodstream following a heart attack

How is Ventricular Fibrillation Treated?


If someone goes into cardiac arrest following ventricular fibrillation, it’s important to call 911 immediately. There are two stages of treatment for V-fib: the first is focused on restoring the person’s pulse and blood pressure. The second stage focuses on reducing a person’s chances of developing ventricular fibrillation in the future.

Stage one treatments for ventricular fibrillation include:

  • Automated emergency defibrillator (AED), if used correctly, will shock the heart of a person who suffered a V-fib episode and return their heart to a normal rhythm. Using an AED within two minutes of a V-fib episode can vastly increase a person’s chances of surviving the incident.
  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) compressions should be performed after calling 911, as they can keep blood flowing through the body before help arrives.

Stage two treatments for ventricular fibrillation include:

  • Antiarrhythmic medications - Drugs used to control the beating rhythm of the heart can be used for long-term treatment of V-fib
  • Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) - An implanted device that monitors the heart’s beating, an ICD can shock the heart back into a regular rhythm if it detects a life-threatening arrhythmia
  • Cardiac ablation - A procedure that uses catheters to create scars on the heart to block abnormal electrical signals
  • Coronary angioplasty and stent placement - If a heart attack causes the V-fib, this procedure can reduce the chances of future V-fib by restoring blood flow to the heart through a previously blocked artery
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Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Ventricular Fibrillation Treatment

At NewYork-Presbyterian, our cardiac and arrhythmia experts can help guide you through the aftermath of ventricular fibrillation, including any symptoms you may experience, and create a customized care plan to minimize your chances of future episodes. Our team will ensure you get the best, comprehensive treatment at our world-renowned facilities.