Long QT syndrome is a disorder of the heart's electrical system, which can be inherited or acquired. The syndrome's name comes from an elongated QT interval on an electrocardiogram. People with LQTS are prone to develop an extremely rapid heart rhythm, often brought on by exercise, emotion or loud noise. This improper rhythm interferes with blood flow to the brain and can result in fainting or cardiac arrest. A new study shows a specific surgery can reduce the risk of fainting or sudden death in people with a disorder called long QT syndrome.
Beta-blockers can also slow the heartbeat and prevent arrhythmias in LQTS patients. However, about a fourth of patients continue to experience symptoms while on the medication.
One current treatment method involves an implanted defibrillator that automatically delivers a shock to the heart with an irregular rhythm to return the rhythm to normal. Though researchers say this is the best protection, some patients experience storms of cardiac arrest resulting in multiple shocks. This can be frightening and interfere with quality of life.
The new alternative is a 40-minute surgery called left cardiac sympathetic denervation. The procedure reduces the heart's control from the sympathetic nervous system by removing part of the nerves leading to the heart. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for involuntary biological functions such as breathing and heart rate.
Based of the study results,of 147 patients, researchers found surgery reduced fainting and cardiac arrest by 91 percent, even in a population of patients at an especially high risk.