Long Q-T syndrome (LQTS) is a problem with the electric signals that start each heartbeat. It can cause a very fast or irregular heartbeat. Sometimes LQTS can cause a dangerous heart rhythm and be life threatening.
Long Q-T syndrome gets its name from the unusual pattern of the electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) of people with the disease. An ECG is a test that measures and records your heartbeat.
An electrical signal in your heart starts each heartbeat, causing the heart muscle to squeeze (contract). Normally, this signal starts in the upper right chamber of the heart (the right atrium) at a place called the sinus node. The signal then travels to the upper left atrium and to the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles).
Several things can cause LQTS
LQTS is often present at birth but it can appear at any age. It most often occurs in children and young adults.
Some children with LQTS have few or no symptoms. Sudden fainting spells are the most common symptom. Sometimes LQTS may also cause seizures. Fainting spells are usually brief, but your child may be injured from falling when fainting.
Symptoms may happen in response to physical or emotional events, such as exercise, being in cold water, hearing loud noises, laughing, or crying. Sometimes they are triggered by a slow heartbeat, like when your child is sleeping, and may cause gasping for air.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Your provider will also ask if any of your family members have had LQTS, unexplained fainting spells, or sudden death. Tests may include:
Because LQTS runs in families, if blood tests show that your child has the gene for LQTS, other family members should also be tested.
Treatment may include:
Your child may need to avoid medicines and activities that may cause symptoms, such as sports, flying or scuba diving.
With treatment, children with LQTS can lead fairly normal lives. Most can be physically active and handle emotional stress without fear of symptoms.
Be sure to take all medicines as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Help your child learn to manage stress. Teach children and teens to practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques when feeling stressed. Help your child find ways to relax. For example take up a hobby, listen to music, play, watch movies, or take walks.
Take care of your child’s physical health. Make sure your child eats a healthy diet and gets enough sleep and exercise every day. Teach your child to avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and drugs.
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your child’s healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.