Shockable Rhythms in ACLS

What rhythms are shockable? Find out by certifying in ACLS or PALS, BLS or CPR.

Types and Treatment of Shockable Rhythms

Advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) is a set of medical interventions used to treat life-threatening cardiac emergencies. One crucial aspect of ACLS is the identification and treatment of shockable rhythms, which are cardiac arrhythmias that can be treated with defibrillation. 

Here are the shockable rhythms in ACLS and a brief explanation of each:

Ventricular fibrillation (VF) 

This is a chaotic, irregular rhythm that results in ineffective contractions of the heart. VF requires immediate defibrillation to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.

Pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VT) 

This is a fast and regular rhythm that can lead to ineffective contractions of the heart. It can progress to VF if not treated promptly, making defibrillation a critical intervention.

RELATED: Understanding Advanced Algorithms for the Treatment of Ventricular Fibrillation

a healthcare worker holds defibrillator paddles.

AHA updates to the treatment of shockable rhythms in ACLS

Since 2020, the American Heart Association (AHA) has made some updates to the treatment of shockable rhythms in ACLS. One significant change is the emphasis on minimizing interruptions in chest compressions during defibrillation attempts. The AHA also recommends that defibrillation be performed as soon as possible in shockable rhythms, even before administering medication.

RELATED: The Latest ACLS Guidelines and How to Implement Them in Your Practice

Monitoring CPR effectiveness in shockable rhythms 

In addition, the AHA recommends the use of capnography to monitor the effectiveness of chest compressions during CPR in shockable rhythms. Capnography can provide real-time feedback on the patient’s ventilation and circulation, which can help improve the quality of chest compressions.

Understanding shockable rhythms in ACLS is essential for healthcare providers involved in the management of cardiac emergencies. By identifying and treating these rhythms promptly with defibrillation and other interventions, healthcare providers can improve patient outcomes. With the latest updates from the AHA, healthcare providers can stay up-to-date with the most effective interventions for shockable rhythms in ACLS.

Monitor CPR effectiveness inshockable rhythms.

RELATED: ACLS Certification for Your Medical Team with Medical ProCerts

Do you know the different types of shockable rhythms in ACLS? Medical ProCerts’ online ACLS courses cover the latest interventions and protocols for ventricular fibrillation and pulseless ventricular tachycardia. Learn how to treat these life-threatening arrhythmias and save lives at

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