Ventricular fibrillation is a type of abnormal heart rhythm that occurs as a result of disorganized heart signals that cause the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) to twitch or quiver instead of completely expanding and squeezing.
It is a malfunction of the heart’s normal pumping sequence that prevents the heart from pumping blood to the other parts of the body. It is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
Warning signs and symptoms of Ventricular Fibrillation
You may have experienced signs and symptoms of an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) such as;
- Chest pain
- Very fast or slow heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
The main symptom is loss of consciousness and then passing out.
A problem in the heart’s electrical signal or a disruption of the normal supply of blood to the heart muscle is the main cause of ventricular fibrillation.
Risk factors are:
- A previous heart attack
- A congenital heart disease
- Heart muscle disease
- Heart surgery
- Electrical shock
- Arrhythmia-causing conditions
- Injuries to the heart muscle
- Drug misuses such as cocaine or methamphetamine
- A severe imbalance of potassium or magnesium in the body
A common test used to diagnose ventricular fibrillation is an electrocardiogram.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) measures the electrical activity of the heart. It can show if your heart is beating too fast, too slow, irregularly, or if your heart is not beating at all. A heartbeat of about 300 to 400 beats a minute usually.
Other tests that may be conducted include:
- Chest X-ray
- Blood tests
- Coronary catheterization
- Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Cardiac computerized tomography (CT)
Ventricular Fibrillation Treatment in Waco, TX
It is an emergency that requires immediate medical treatment to prevent sudden cardiac death. Without immediate treatment, it can lead to death within minutes. This is because the rapid, erratic heartbeats cause the heart to stop pumping blood to the other parts of your body. When blood is not flowing to the other parts of your body, your brain and other organs in your body may not function anymore and could get damaged.
The goal of treatment is to restore blood flow to the other parts of your body as quickly as possible to prevent organ and brain damage.
Treatment options include:
It involves the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) that delivers shocks through the chest wall to the heart. This device can help restore a normal heart rhythm.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
CPR is used to restore heartbeats. It involves pushing hard and fast on a patient’s chest with the palms. A doctor or person will need to continue CPR until an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available.
When the heartbeat is resuscitated and the heart beating well, other treatments can follow.
Other treatments are given to prevent future episodes of ventricular fibrillation and to reduce your risk of arrhythmia-related symptoms.
Other treatment options include:
Medications to control heart rhythm are used for emergency or long-term treatment. Examples of antiarrhythmics that may be prescribed include amiodarone, flecainide, ibutilide, procainamide, and propafenone.
Surgical procedures are:
1. Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
An ICD constantly monitors your heart rhythm. It sends out shocks if it detects a fast heartbeat or a quivering or irregular heartbeat to stop the episode.
2. Cardiac ablation
This procedure involves using heat or cold energy to create tiny scars in the heart to block abnormal electrical signals.
3. Coronary angioplasty and stent placement
If a coronary artery is blocked and if a heart attack is the cause of your ventricular fibrillation, this procedure may be done. It involves inserting a deflated balloon into a blocked artery. When in place, the balloon is inflated to widen the artery to restore blood flow. A stent may be placed in the artery to keep it open.
4. Coronary bypass surgery
During this surgery, a healthy artery from your leg, arm, or chest will be harvested. The healthy artery will then be connected below and above the blocked artery in your heart to create a new pathway for blood to flow through to the rest parts of your body.
To prevent or reduce your risk, you will need to keep to the following:
- Eat healthy diets
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid or limit your intake of alcohol
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Keep your blood pressure level in a healthy range
- Go for regular checkups
Ventricular fibrillation vs Ventricular tachycardia
Just like ventricular fibrillation, ventricular tachycardia occurs as a result of a problem with the heart’s electrical signals or impulses. Both are considered life-threatening and can cause sudden cardiac arrest.
The difference between them is that in ventricular tachycardia, the lower chambers of the heartbeat are much faster than they should while in ventricular fibrillation, the lower chambers of the heart twitch or quiver instead of completely expanding and squeezing.
What happens when you have ventricular fibrillation?
When you have an episode of ventricular fibrillation, the heart is unable to pump blood to the rest parts of your body. Your brain and other body organs need blood to function. When they don’t get blood, they stop functioning and could get damaged.
How long can you live with ventricular fibrillation?
It is a life-threatening condition. It requires immediate medical attention. If not immediately treated, it can lead to death.
Can ventricular fibrillation correct itself?
No, cannot correct itself. It requires immediate medical attention.
Why is amiodarone used in ventricular fibrillation?
Amiodarone is an anti-arrhythmic drug. It is used to treat ventricular arrhythmias. It prevents the recurrence of ventricular arrhythmias.
What is the first-line treatment for ventricular fibrillation?
The first line of treatment for ventricular fibrillation is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR is used to restore heartbeats by pushing hard and fast on a patient’s chest using the palms. A doctor or person will need to continue CPR until other treatment options are made available.
Can stress cause ventricular fibrillation?
Heart palpitations can occur as a result of stressful situations which increases your risk of ventricular fibrillation.