The nurse is reviewing laboratory results for a patient and finds a potassium level of 2.9. The nurse then looks at the patient's electrocardiogram (EKG) monitor and notes the occurrence of wide QRS waves at a rate of 100 with no identifiable P waves. The nurse immediately checks on the patient, who is awake and alert, but with complaints of shortness of breath and chest discomfort. The nurse calls the rapid response team for assistance. The nurse has recognized which of the following heart rhythms in this patient? 

Ventricular tachycardia

Explanation

•Wide QRS waveforms, with the absence of P waves, accompanied by an elevated rate at 100 indicates ventricular tachycardia.

•A low potassium level can cause ventricular irritability, which may lead to ventricular arrhythmias.

•In ventricular tachycardia, the patient can be awake and alert, but may have shortness of breath and chest pain. Patients in ventricular tachycardia may also be unconscious or lose consciousness during an episode of ventricular tachcardia (V-tach).

•Ventricular tachycardia is an urgent or emergent situation. 

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