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 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 specialists at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, have the experience and skills to diagnose and provide care for long QT syndrome.

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

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 also can occur after taking certain medications or having electrolyte abnormalities. Sometimes symptoms come on suddenly and without warning.

Long QT syndrome may be diagnosed through a electrocardiogram (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 Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

No other congenital heart surgery program in Kentucky, Ohio or Southern Indiana is rated higher by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons than the Norton Children’s Heart Institute Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery Program.

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • Our board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric cardiovascular surgeons are leaders in the field as clinicians and researchers.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute successfully performs more than 17,500 procedures a year.
  • The Society of Thoracic Surgeons rated Norton Children’s Heart Institute among the best in the region after studying years of our patients’ outcomes and our ability to treat a range of pediatric heart conditions, including the most severe.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has satellite outpatient offices in Ashland, Bowling Green, Campbellsville, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, London, Madisonville, Murray, Owensboro, Paducah and Shepherdsville in Kentucky; as well as Corydon, Jasper, Madison and Scottsburg in Indiana; 28 tele-echocardiography locations in Kentucky and Southern Indiana; and six fetal echocardiography locations across Kentucky.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has awarded the cardiothoracic surgeons at Norton Children’s Hospital with subspecialty certification in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
  • Our multidisciplinary approach to pediatric heart surgery brings together our specialists in cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology, anesthesiology, cardiac critical care and other areas to create a complete care plan tailored for your child.
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