Understanding the Nature of the Long QT Syndrome
A sudden halt in the heart’s normal beating pattern typically results to what is known as Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Although typically used interchangeably with heart attack, the two conditions are not the same, with SCA typically comes as a result of a problem in the electrical impulses related to the heart beat. Heart attack, on the other hand, typically comes as a result of a blockage in the blood vessels. If not treated immediately, it can ultimately lead to death. One of the most common causes of SCA is what is known as the Long QT Syndrome, or LQTS.
What is a Long QT Syndrome?
The heart makes use of electrical impulses in order to moderate its beating pattern. This electrical cycle is measured in terms of what is known as a QT interval – the time between the start of the Q wave and the end of the T Wave. In the case of a Long QT Syndrome, the interval is longer than usual, typically indicating a delay between the depolarization and repolarization of the heart. This prolongation, though typical, is not always visible in all LQTS patients.
Those with LQTS typically suffer from bouts of bouts of seizures and arrhythmias, or an irregular heartbeat. This is aside from palpitations and dizziness prior to onset of other conditions. Keep in mind that this condition is typically hereditary. There are, however, cases where LQTS comes about as a result of certain medications such as diuretics, antihistamine, antibiotics, and antidepressants. Severe diarrhea and vomiting, which can cause dehydration and, ultimately, a reduced level of potassium, can also lead to a Long QT Syndrome.
There are currently seven different types of LQTS. Of these, however, the most common ones are LQTS 1, 2 and 3. In LQTS 1, emotional stress can already trigger arrhythmia. LQTS 2, on the other hand, typically comes as a result of shock or other extreme emotions. In LQTS 3, a slowed heart rate, such as when you are asleep, can bring about an irregular heartbeat pattern.
Dealing with LQTS
According to researches and studies, those who have undiagnosed and untreated hereditary LQTS can die within 10 years. That said, most medical professionals agree that the best way to handle this is with beta blocker medication. It is also recommended to watch what you eat and ensure that you do not live a sedentary life. Aside from this, the following can also help:
- Adding white beans and baked potatoes with skin to your diet. Both are considered to be top sources of potassium
- Considering the use of pacemakers in order to keep the beating pattern within normal range
- Keeping away from strenuous activities
An immediate way to help LQTS patients who are having an SCA would be to administer AED, or Automated External Defibrillator. An AED is a portable device that can help jumpstart a heart’s beating pattern should it suddenly come to a stop. Depending on the model, an AED could come with voice prompts that can guide the user during emergency cases.