Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is a condition that affects the electrical system of the heart. In LQTS, it takes
longer for the heart to squeeze and then recover or "recharge." If it's not treated,
long QT can be dangerous.
What Happens in Long QT Syndrome?
An area of the heart called the sinus node sends electrical signals
that tell the heart to beat at a normal rate.
After each heartbeat, the heart quickly "recharges" for the next beat. The time
it takes to recharge is called the QT interval. When this interval
takes longer than it should, it changes the timing of the heartbeat and can cause
an abnormal or dangerous rhythm.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Long QT Syndrome?
Some kids with long QT syndrome have no symptoms. Others may feel changes in their
heartbeat, feel lightheaded at times, or faint.
Things like stress, exercise, or being startled can bring on symptoms. But sometimes
symptoms can come on suddenly and without warning.
What Causes Long QT Syndrome?
Long QT syndrome can be:
congenital, which means it's inherited and the baby has the condition
acquired, which means the child develops it later. Children may
develop long QT syndrome from some types of medicines.
Congenital long QT syndrome can be treated, but it can't be "cured" and won't go
away on its own. Acquired long QT syndrome usually stops if the cause (like certain
medicines) goes away.
Who Gets Long QT Syndrome?
Long QT syndrome can affect people of all ages but is sometimes more serious in
Long QT syndrome often can be treated with a medicine called a beta blocker.
Beta blockers help the heart beat more slowly.
Sometimes kids have to have a small device called a defibrillator
implanted under their skin. If a child has a dangerous heart rhythm, the device can
reset the heart back into a normal rhythm.
For children who have congenital long QT syndrome, treatment usually won't make
the QT interval shorter. But it can lower the risk of life-threatening abnormal heart
rhythms and fainting.
Because long QT syndrome can be a lifelong condition, kids who have it will need
regular checkups with a cardiologist (a doctor who specializes in treating heart problems).
By following the cardiologist's advice about medicines, diet, and exercise, most kids
with long QT syndrome can stay healthy.
Some kids can participate in sports, but only under the careful guidance of a cardiologist.
Check with your cardiologist to find out which activities your child should avoid
and which ones are safe to do.
Kids with long QT syndrome should always check with their cardiologist to find
out which medicines are safe to take.