Long QT Syndrome

When the heart takes longer than it should to “recharge” between heartbeats, the condition is called long QT syndrome. The longer interval changes the timing of the heartbeat and can cause an abnormal or dangerous rhythms.

Long QT syndrome, also sometimes called QT prolongation, can be a lifelong condition. Children who have it will need regular checkups with a pediatric cardiologist.

Some kids are born with long QT syndrome. Others may get it after taking certain medications. Long QT syndrome can affect people of all ages, but it is sometimes more serious in children. Long QT syndrome can be diagnosed with an electrocardiogram (ECG). It is important that the diagnosis of long QT syndrome is made early in life in order to prevent severe manifestations of the syndrome.

The board-certified and fellowship-trained specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute will likely prescribe medication, diet changes and exercise to allow children with long QT syndrome to stay healthy.

The specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, have the experience and skill to diagnose and provide care for long QT syndrome.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has ranked Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s pediatric heart care among the best in the region. Norton Children’s has a network of outreach diagnostic and treatment services conveniently located throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Long QT Syndrome Symptoms

Some kids with long QT syndrome have no symptoms. Others may feel changes in their heartbeat, feel lightheaded at times, faint, or have a seizure. Unfortunately, in some severe cases, long QT syndrome may even cause sudden death.

Stress, exercise or being startled can bring on symptoms. Symptoms can also occur secondary to certain medications or electrolyte abnormalities. Sometimes symptoms come on suddenly and without warning.

You may learn that you have or are at risk for long QT syndrome through a ECG. Even an ECG done for a different reason can identify long QT syndrome. Some children have a family history of long QT syndrome and should have an ECG to look for the abnormality. Others may learn that they have the condition through genetic testing.

Long QT Syndrome Treatment

Long QT syndrome often can be treated with beta blocker medications. Commonly prescribed to patients with heart rhythm and blood pressure conditions, these medications help slow the heart rate and make the long QT syndrome rhythm less likely to occur.

Sometimes kids have to have a small defibrillator implanted in order to prevent sudden death. If a child has a dangerous heart rhythm, the device can reset the heart back into a normal rhythm.

For children who are born with long QT syndrome, treatment usually won’t shorten the QT interval. But it can lower the risk of life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms and fainting.

A Norton Children’s Heart Institute pediatric cardiologist can evaluate your child and determine if he or she can participate in sports and other activities.

If your child has long QT syndrome, certain medicines should be avoided. Check with your child’s pediatric cardiologist to find out which medicines are safe.

Why Norton Children’s Heart Institute?

Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, is a comprehensive pediatric heart surgery, heart failure and heart transplant program serving Kentucky, Southern Indiana and beyond.

The goal of the full-service Norton Children’s Heart Institute is to provide care for the child and the whole family. Our specialists are prepared to repair even the most complex congenital and acquired heart conditions.

Our heart team includes:

  • Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons
  • Pediatric transplant surgeons
  • Pediatric cardiologists
    • Fetal cardiologists
    • Adult congenital heart cardiologists
    • Heart failure/heart transplant cardiologists
    • Pediatric electrophysiologists
    • Pediatric cardiac catheterization cardiologists
  • Pediatric cardiovascular anesthesiologists
  • Pediatric intensive care physicians
  • Cardiac critical care nurses
  • Critical care pharmacists
  • Family support team
  • Child life specialists
  • Rehabilitation specialists
  • Social workers
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Norton Children’s Heart Institute

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