What is Long QT Syndrome (LQTS)?
LQTS is a disturbance of the heart's electrical system, causing anabnormality of the heartbeat, or rhythm of the heart.
Because of this abnormality, affected people are vulnerable to sudden fainting (syncope) and even death.
Unfortunately, many times the cause of the syncope is overlooked and the events are called simple fainting spells or seizures.
Most often, these events occur during physical exertion, emotional stress or startle (alarm clock). Sometimes they occur during sleep.
Fortunately, most of these deaths are preventable if the condition is recognized and treated.
How is it Diagnosed?
The diagnosis is made from an ECG that has been read by a cardiologist, not a computer. Usually a series of ECGs will enable your doctor to diagnose LQTS. In some cases, an exercise ECG or event monitor will clarify the diagnosis. Finally, a diagnostic genetic test in now available and is the best way to know for sure, as well as assist in the treatment decisions.
How Is It Treated?
Treatment is very effective in the vast majority of patients. Medications called beta-blockers are effective in about 90% of patients. In the remaining cases, a pacemaker or automatic defibrillator is used.
A person should be seen by a doctor if she/he has:
Family history of unexpected, unexplained sudden death in a young person.
Fainting (syncope) or seizure during exercise, excitement or startle.
Consistent or unusual chest pain and/or shortness of breath during exercise.