About the disease
Long QT syndrome is either acquired or develops due to a congenital heart condition, whereby the heartbeat becomes irregular and the interval between heartbeats is longer than it should be. Prolongation of the interval causes electrical instability of the heart muscles. If not treated in time, this condition can lead to such complications as tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. The disease is not especially rare, affecting 2 people in 4000. Long QT is believed to be caused by a genetic predisposition, which includes inherited diseases and gene mutations that are passed down to the child during prenatal development. It can also appear as a side effect of such drugs as quinidine, barbiturate and propafenone. Progressed metabolic disorders and continuous low-fat diets also contribute to the development of an irregular heartbeat.
As Long QT can stay latent for a long time, the first symptom can be an unexpected blackout, caused by prolonged intervals between heart beats. Over time, these intervals tend to get longer and the pulse becomes weaker, causing more episodes of blackouts. If this is happening, the sufferer must seek medical help immediately, as this disease can be life threatening.
- Fainting episodes
- Weight loss
- Severe weakness
- Chest pain
- Mood swings
- During a general examination, the doctor may listen to the heartbeat through a stethoscope to determine if it is slow.
- Electrocardiography can detect tachycardia and long intervals between heartbeats.
- Holter monitoring records the patient’s cardiac activity during the day.
- Laboratory tests can rule out other causes of long intervals between each heartbeat, such as a dysfunctional thyroid gland.
- Treatment of this condition aims to normalize the heartbeat by preventing the prolongation of the heart’s electrical impulses. This can be achieved with a course of antiarrhythmic drugs, which can stabilize the cardiovascular system.
- Surgical treatment usually involves the implantation of a cardioverter defibrillator if the arrhythmia is life-threatening. The device is implanted in the region of the left heart muscle and its electrodes are connected to the chambers of the heart by venous puncture.
- A pacemaker can detect the slightest deviation from a normal heart rhythm and sends electrical impulses to the brain, which immediately returns the heartbeat to normal.