What Is Long QT Syndrome, And For How Should It Be Treated?

Question: What is long QT syndrome, and for how should it be treated?

Answer :So long QT syndrome is a problem that has received a great deal of press recently and it's important clinical problem. It comes in two varieties. One is acquired. That's when you develop the problem secondary to medications. And the other genetics -- so a problem that you are actually born with. The QT interval is a measurement on the ECG that represents how long it takes for the heart to recover after it contracts before it's ready to contract again. If this recovery process takes longer than normal, we say it's a prolonged QT interval on the ECG. And then if an extra beat occurs or a premature beat occurs during that QT interval, it can throw the heart into a life-threatening arrhythmia we call ventricular tachycardia. It is a genetic problem, so it can travel in families, but it can also be due to some medications that we take. And it's one of the things that the FDA looks at when they are approving new drugs, because this heart rhythm can cause sudden cardiac death. If someone has a prolonged QT interval and has experienced syncope, or a loss of consciousness, then an implantable defibrillator is often used.