Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) is not always fatal, but it certainly can be. That’s why LQTS is also called “Sudden Death Syndrome” and that’s why you need to be aware of its signs and symptoms to make sure it does not get misdiagnosed as a harmless fainting spell. LQTS is a disorder of the heart’s electrical function. It can cause sudden and dangerous heart arrhythmias (abnormal heart beat or rhythm) and can result in immediate death. Every three days a young athlete collapses and dies in the United States due to an undetected heart problem. It is estimated that 3,000 to 4,000 children and young adults die each year due to LQTS. How do you get this hidden heart disorder? The most common reasons for LQTS are:
- Some people are born with LQTS and will have it their entire life. The deadly arrhythmia can be triggered by
- Emotional stress
- Exercise (swimming/running)
- Extreme emotions
- Slow heart rate while sleeping
- Some people develop or acquire LQTS during their lifetime.
- Over 50 medicines have been found to cause LQTS
- Severe eating disorders, vomiting and diarrhea may cause LQTS
What are the signs of LQTS?
People with this condition may not have symptoms or may have sporadic symptoms such as rapid heart rate or sensitivity to caffeine. Sometimes the symptoms become dangerous, such as fainting and seizures. But still, the condition can go undiagnosed. Some people will have symptoms when they are born. About 50% of people that inherit the disease will have some symptom by the time they reach 12-years old.
If you or a family member experience any abnormal heart symptoms, or know of a history of LQTS in your family, you should call your doctor for a check-up.