Long QT Syndrome (Prlonged QT Syndrome)

Long QT Syndrome (Prlonged QT Syndrome) is caused by a defect in the heart’s electrical circuit, often resulting in loss of consciousness. It may also cause sudden death due to heart failure.

  • Genetic defects, heart disorders and using certain drugs can result in long QT syndrome.
  • Abnormally fast heart rate, which reduces the efficiency of the heart, is the cause of the common symptom of sudden loss of consciousness.
  • An ECG and stress test can confirm long QT syndrome.
  • The condition is usually treated with beta-blockers. Implanting pace makers may help regularize the heart beat. A surgical procedure may be beneficial in some cases.

The interval between two consecutive points on the electrocardiogram is referred to a QT. In those who have long QT syndrome, this interval is abnormally prolonged. This condition usually affects one in 7,000 people. It has a fatal outcome in more than 3,000 children and youngsters in the United States alone. A genetic defect is the usual cause for long QT syndrome in children. Screening for genetic abnormalities may help diagnose this condition. This abnormality may be common within the family if some other members have suffered sudden deaths without any apparent reason. Use of certain drugs or some other disorder may precipitate long QT syndrome too. This is the usual cause for this condition developing in the adults.

In people with long QT syndrome, abnormally fast heart rate may develop at the time physical exertion, or with emotional excitement. When the heart beats too fast, its capacity to pump out sufficient amount of blood becomes greatly reduced. Inadequate blood supply to the brain often results in sudden unconsciousness. It can even be fatal. Deafness is common in people with this abnormal condition.

An ECG may be conducted on children, as well as adults, who have become suddenly unconscious without any apparent reason. Often, some form of stress is introduced during the test so that the performance of the heart can be better assessed. A person at rest can take the test after the administration of certain drugs into the vein. In exercise tress testing, the person either walks on the treadmill or works on an exercise bicycle during the test. It can simulate the working of the heart during exertion.

 Drug treatment with beta-blockers is often effective in most people who have the long QT syndrome. In some cases, drug therapy may not yield the desired results. Such people may benefit from the installation of pacemakers to regulate the abnormal heart rate. Some people may need a combination of a defibrillator and a pacemaker. The implanted defibrillator can deliver an electric shock to the heart whenever a lethal heart rhythm develops. It can revive the heart and prevent fatal heart attacks. Some children with long QT syndrome may have to be restricted from competitive sports due to the high risk of sudden death occurring during exertion.

A surgical alternative found to be effective in preventing abnormally fast heart rate is termed cervicothoracic sympathectomy. In this procedure, a nerve located in the neck is severed, as it has the effect of preventing abnormally high heart rate, which is the cause of loss of consciousness and sudden death due to heart failure.

Watch this Video: What is Long QT Syndrome?

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Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

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