How is it treated?
Treatment is aimed at preventing sudden death and controlling symptoms. Treatment includes:
Most patients (even those without symptoms) are treated with a beta-blocker. Other medications may be used to shorten the Q-T interval. Your doctor will discuss what medications are best for you. It is important to know:
- The names of your medications
- What they are for
- How often and at what times to take them
Medications to avoid
There are many medications that can prolong the QT interval. Those with LQTS may be more prone to the effects of these medications. If you have LQTS, you should:
- Do not take over-the-counter medications (except for plain aspirin or acetaminophen) without first talking to your health care provider.
- Tell all your health care providers you have LQTS, as there are many drugs you cannot take.
- Talk to your doctor before taking any medications prescribed for other medical conditions. The following types of medications may affect you if you have LQTS:
- Antidepressants, mental illness medications
- Heart medications
- Antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals
- Intestinal medications
- Migraine medications
- Cholesterol lowering medications
For a complete, updated list of medications, contact the SADS Foundation.*
- Patients who have a history of cardiac arrest or symptoms, in spite of beta-blocker therapy, may receive an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). This device detects life-threatening arrhythmias and automatically shocks the heart to prevent sudden death.
- Patients who have an abnormally slow heart rate may receive a pacemaker.
- Family testing - All first-line relatives (brothers, sisters, parents and children) should have EKG testing. Any other family members who have a history of seizures or fainting should also undergo testing.
- Exercise - If you have LQTS, sometimes, fatal arrhythmias occur with exercise. The decision to participate in competitive sports should be managed by a heart rhythm expert and certain precautions may be suggested.
- Buddy system - Your family and friends should be told you have LQTS. They should be told to call for emergency help (911) if you begin to have symptoms or faint.
Future treatments will be geared toward more gene specific therapies. For example, certain types of LQTS are more likely to initiate events during exercise, while others are more related to startling or emotional distress. Your doctor will be able to give you activity guidelines based on the specific type of LQTS gene you carry. Therapies may be directed to treat the specific gene, rather than prevention of future complications.
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