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Prolonged QT Syndrome

Overview :

Abnormal heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias) are a primary cause of sudden death, especially in the young population. In the United States, an estimated 1 in 300,000 individuals per year die suddenly due to irregular heart rhythms. One of the better understood causes of these arrhythmias is LQTS.

The QT of LQTS refers to an interval between two points (Q and T) on the common electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) used to record the electrical activity of the heart. This electrical activity, in turn, is the result of small molecules (ions such as sodium and potassium) passing in and out of channels in the membranes surrounding heart cells. A prolonged QT interval indicates an abnormality in electrical activity that leads to irregularities in heart muscle contraction. One of these irregularities is a specific pattern of very rapid contractions (tachycardia) of the lower chambers of the heart called torsade de pointes, a type of ventricular tachycardia. The rapid contractions, which are not effective in pumping blood to the body, result in a decreased flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. This can result in a sudden loss of consciousness (syncope) and death.

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