Long QT syndrome is a cardiac disorder which is associated with abnormal electric activity within the heart, which may result in abnormal or irregular heart rhythms often referred to as arrhythmia. The normal cardiac rhythms are very important to ensure that blood circulation is adequate to the different parts of the body including the brain. The condition though may be asymptomatic in a large portion of patients, can be associated with serious complications and even death.
What are the causes of Long QT syndrome?
Long QT syndrome is primarily an inherited disorder which is associated with inheritance of one or more mutated genes from the parents. There are over twelve different genes that have been found to be responsible for the development of the condition, with seven different types of inherited long QT syndromes.
Long QT syndrome may also be acquired and is attributed to the use of certain medications including anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetic, anti-depressants, etc. Certain antibiotics and antifungal medications can also result in development of the problem. Certain deficiencies, especially potassium deficiency are closely linked with the development of long QT syndrome.
What are the Symptoms of Long QT Syndrome?
Though in most cases long QT syndrome is not associated with any symptoms, in cases which are associated with significant alternation in cardiac rhythms, symptoms are observed. The most common symptoms associated with a long QT syndrome include:
Sudden attacks of fainting or syncope which are associated with loss of consciousness.
Sudden episode of generalized seizures, which is attributed to reduced circulation of blood to the brain.
Sudden cardiac arrest which is may lead to death if not managed promptly with external electrical stimulation of the heart
Grasping for air at night, especially in sleep.
In addition, some other general symptoms like lightheadedness, generalized weakness and blurring of vision may also be observed. The symptoms are observed either in infants or in individuals above 40 years in age. These symptoms tend to reduce in intensity as time progresses.
Treating Long Qt Syndrome
The diagnosis is based on electrocardiogram findings and is confirmed using genetic testing and electroencephalogram. Estimates have suggested that over half the people with untreated long QT syndrome die within ten years of the development of the condition. However the prognosis typically depends upon how efficiently the condition is managed. The management of the condition focuses on life style modification, dietary changes and surgical intervention, which is often required only in very serious cases.
Avoiding strenuous work and avoiding events that may cause sudden emotional alterations is primary requirement. A strong family and peer support is required to improve an individual�s chances of survival
Certain medications have been associated with the condition and hence these medications should be avoided. Never purchase over the counter medications without consulting your physician.
Surgical treatments include installation of pacemakers or implantable defibrillators, which help in regulating the heartbeats. In severe cases, nerve which can result in elevation of heart beats are dissected to ensure a smooth cardiac functioning.