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Long QT syndrome (LQTS)

A heart rhythm disorder that is usually inherited

Long QT syndrome affects the bottom chambers of the heart, causing a rapid heart rate and abnormal rhythm

About

Long QT syndrome (LQTS) is usually inherited but it can be caused by certain medications. It affects the bottom pumping chambers of the heart (ventricles), and can cause a fast and dangerous heart rhythm that can lead to fainting or even cardiac arrest.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of long QT syndrome icon plus

    Some people with long QT syndrome have no symptoms and the condition is only detected on a heart monitor or during an electrocardiogram (ECG) carried out for other reasons. Some symptoms include:

    • fainting or blackouts
    • palpitations or chest fluttering
    • feeling lightheaded
    • cardiac arrest

    These symptoms can be triggered by strenuous exercise, stress, a sudden noise or a slow heart rate while sleeping.

  • Diagnosis icon plus

    An electrocardiogram (ECG) is the main way to detect long QT syndrome. If you have this condition, it shows up on an ECG as a lengthened QT interval, which is part of the heartbeat cycle. Sometimes other tests are needed such as an exercise ECG, which is an ECG carried out during physical exertion. Alternatively, you may be given a Holter monitor, which is a portable ECG recording device to wear for up to a few days to get more readings. Genetic testing can also be carried out and may help determine your type of LQTS.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment can help prevent the symptoms of LQTS and minimise the risk of fainting or cardiac arrest. Inherited LQTS is usually treated with medicines. Depending on your symptoms, you may also need to have an implantable cardioverter debrifillator device fitted. This is implanted under the skin on your chest and wires connect it to your heart. It monitors your heart rhythm and can give a brief electrical shock to reset the rhythm. People with non-inherited LQTS are usually treated by changing the medicines that caused the problem.
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    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 0207 483 5148
    Enquiries 020 3131 7478

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    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments and Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773
    Switchboard 020 7407 3100

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    35 Weymouth Street

    London

    W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7034 8181
    Enquiries 020 3131 7962

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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