Your heart may beat erratically at times. But, the ventricular fibrillation is a problem leading to the heart rhythm problem. Your heart beats with erratic, rapid electric impulses. So, the heart pumping chamber stops pumping the blood and quivers uselessly. The underlying condition like the heart attack can trigger the ventricular fibrillation. Therefore, it leads to a drop in blood pressure. It cuts off the blood supply to the vital organs in your body.
Ventricular fibrillation is a serious condition that needs immediate medical help. So, you need to go to a hospital immediately to seek the necessary treatment. If your loved ones suffer from the problem, do not waste time. The health of the person can deteriorate quickly and cause them to collapse. Therefore, immediate action is necessary to overcome the problem. Read ahead to know the warning signs and symptoms to take immediate action.
What Is Ventricular Fibrillation?
Before going into the signs of the issue, you need to know what exactly ventricular fibrillation is. The condition can lead to abnormal heart rhythm. So, your heart beats in a quick, out of rhythm pattern. It is mostly triggered by cardiac arrest. Your body must beat in a steady rhythm. Any change in the rhythm leads to complications.
Your heart is the vital organ in your body made of four chambers. Atrium refers to the upper chambers that receive and collect blood. The lower chambers are known as ventricles aids in the pumping of blood. Both the upper and lower chamber work together for the normal and life-sustaining functioning of the heart. The abnormal heart rhythm can occur in the upper or lower chambers. Atrial fibrillation refers to the heart rhythms in an atrium. While ventricular fibrillation occurs in ventricles.
Symptoms Of Ventricular Fibrillation
The ventricular fibrillation causes the lower portion of the heart to ineffectively pump blood. So, it reduces blood pressure. As the blood is not pumped hard, it does not reach all the organs in the body. The lack of oxygenated blood to the vital organs can cause several adverse effects. Therefore, ventricular fibrillation has the following symptoms:
- Losing consciousness/Fainting
- Chest pain
- Fluttering or rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
You need to take the early symptoms of the ventricular fibrillation seriously. It happens an hour or less before you lose consciousness. Therefore, talk to your friends and get immediate medical help. Call the emergency number to get to the hospital quickly. It will prevent any fatal complications.
Causes Of Ventricular Fibrillation
The exact cause of ventricular fibrillation is unknown. The most common factor that leads to the issue is the heart attack. The abnormal electric impulses traveling through your heart can trigger the condition. So, it can even happen due to the scar tissue in your heart from a previous cardiac attack.
One of the causes of ventricular fibrillation is the ventricular tachycardia (VT). It is the rapid yet regular heartbeat due to the irregular/abnormal electrical impulses. As the name suggests, it starts in your ventricular region.
Ventricular fibrillation is always associated with heart disease. So, ventricular tachycardia can occur with the different types of heart problems like scars or damage from cardiac arrest.
Risk Factors Of Ventricular Fibrillation
Some people are more prone to ventricular fibrillation compared to others. The risk factors associated with the disease are:
- History of heart attack
- Prior episode of ventricular fibrillation
- Congenital heart disease (heart defect)
- Use of illegal, recreational drugs (methamphetamine or cocaine)
- Cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease)
- Electrolyte abnormalities like magnesium or potassium
- Damage or injury to the heart (due to electrocution)
Diagnosis Of Ventricular Fibrillation
Unfortunately, ventricular fibrillation gets diagnosed during an emergency situation. Your doctor can detect the ventricular fibrillation with the following results:
- Pulse Check: Your doctor can detect no pulse during the ventricular fibrillation.
- Heart Monitoring: The heart monitor reads your electrical impulses associated with your heartbeat. The results show if your heart is beating rapidly/erratically or not.
Your doctor can suggest additional tests to diagnose the ventricular fibrillation precisely. The tests performed for right diagnosis are:
The test records the electrical activity of your heart. The impulses recorded by attaching the electrodes to your skin shows the results in waves on a monitor or paper. The abnormal electrical impulses indicate that the heart muscle has suffered injury or damaged. So, the ECG reflects if you have suffered a heart attack or it is in progress.
The X-Ray image shows the doctor your heart’s size and shapes along with the blood vessels. The irregularity of the shape and size of the organ gives the idea about heart health.
With the heart attack, your heart enzymes get leaked into the bloodstream. So, the blood test can reveal the damage of your heart due to cardiac attack. The emergency room doctors take the sample of the blood to the lab for detecting the heart problems.
It uses sound waves to develop the image of the heart. The sound waves directed to the heart using a wand-like device (transducer) held on the chest can produce images. The sound waves get electronically processed to generate heart images video. Therefore, your doctor can know the exact condition of your heart.
Angiogram (Coronary Catheterization)
It is the test conducted to determine the severe damage like the narrow/blocked coronary arteries. During the procedure, a thin, long tube known as catheter injects the dye. Usually, your doctor passes the catheter through the legs to reach the arteries. Subsequently, the dye reveals the image of the arteries on the x-rays. Your doctor can detect the block precisely with the x-ray images.
Cardiac CT Scan
The cardiac computerize tomography collects the images of the heart and head. You need to lie on a table of the machine (with a doughnut shape). The machine has an x-ray tube fitted that rotates over your body to take the images.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
The tube-like machine can take the cardiac MRI. It produces a magnetic field, which aligns with your cell’s atomic particles. The radio waves on the aligned particles can produce images of your heart.
Ventricular Fibrillation Treatment
The ventricular fibrillation treatment is of two types. The emergency treatment and the treatment to prevent any future episodes of the heart problem. Let’s look into each type in detail.
Emergency Treatments For Ventricular Fibrillation
The emergency treatment as the name suggests focuses on restoring the blood flow during the ventricular fibrillation episode. It is to prevent any possible damage to your brain or other organs in the body. So, the treatment option focuses on restoring the blood flow through your heart. The treatment options include:
CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
You may have heard about CPR. It is the emergency treatment method to maintain blood flow. CPR mimics the pumping motion your heart makes to ensure blood flow is not stopped. Anyone can perform the CPR. The method involves pushing the chest hard and fast with 100 to 120 compressions/minute. You need to allow the chest to rise fully between the compressions. Interested in knowing about it? YouTube has so many videos demonstrating the CPR. Therefore, you can learn the technique and use it in emergency situations. You need to perform CPR until the medical help arrives.
It is the method that delivers an electric shock to your chest wall. The electric signals can stop your heart momentarily. But, it can also stop the chaotic rhythm. So, the heart rhythm after defibrillation is normal.
Automated External Defibrillator
Many in India are not aware of the AED that helps send shock waves to the heart to overcome ventricular fibrillation. The public-use AED is now installed in several Delhi metro stations. It is also getting tested in southern states of India (like Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu). The automated external defibrillator is programmed to identify the heart issue like ventricular fibrillation. So, it sends shock waves only if it is necessary.
Treatments To Prevent Future Ventricular Fibrillation Episodes
After the emergency treatment, your doctor can look closely into your problem. The goal is to find the underlying cause of ventricular fibrillation and provide treatment. So, it prevents future episodes of the disease. In most cases, the ventricular fibrillation occurs due to a change in heart structure. It can mainly happen due to a heart attack. In such cases, your doctor devises a treatment plan to reduce the risk due to ventricular fibrillation and ultimately heart attack.
Your doctor may prescribe you the different anti-arrhythmic drugs for an emergency as well as long-term heart treatment for ventricular fibrillation. Beta blockers are commonly suggested for people more vulnerable to ventricular fibrillation or heart attack. It is the class of medication that effectively prevent heart problems.
Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD)
After the initial treatment for the heart problems, your doctor suggests ICD implantation. your doctor performs it after your condition stabilizes. The ICD is a united powered with a battery. It is implanted near your collarbone (left side). The unit has one or more flexible wires that run through the veins to your heart. Subsequently, the unit monitors your heart rhythm closely.
In case of slow heart rhythm, it sends electric signals to correct it (like a pacemaker). If the device detects ventricular fibrillation, then it sends shocks (ranging from low energy to high energy) to reset the heart’s rhythm to normal. It is more effective than any other medication. So, it prevents the arrhythmia-induced heart attacks to a great extent.
Patients suffering from severe coronary artery disease need to undergo the coronary angioplasty to open the blocked arteries. It helps in the free blood flow to the heat. Your doctor suggests the method if your ventricular fibrillation has a heart attack as the underlying reason. So, it reduces the future risk of getting the ventricular fibrillation episodes.
your doctor performs the coronary angioplasty at the same time as the angiogram (coronary catheterization). The angiogram can locate the blocks or the narrowed arteries in your heart. For the procedure, your doctor uses a thin, long tube (catheter. Your doctor passes it through your arms or legs. The catheter has a special balloon tip. So, it opens the blocked artery by inflating the tip. Your doctor may also insert a metal mesh stent to restore blood flow to the heart. Therefore, it keeps the arteries open for the long term.
Coronary Bypass Surgery
Another invasive procedure to restore the blood flow to the heart is the coronary bypass surgery. A skilled surgeon can sew your arteries or veins in place. So, it is effective at the region that has narrowed or a blocked artery. So, it bypassed the narrow section and restores the blood flow to the heart. The procedure reduces the future risk of ventricular fibrillation. Therefore, it improves the blood supply to your heart and prevents damage.
Complications Of Ventricular Fibrillation
Getting medical attention immediately is a necessity to prevent fatal complications with ventricular fibrillation. When you suspect the problem, go to the emergency section in the hospital. It can save you or your loved one’s life. Ignoring the issue can result in either death or other serious complications like:
- Going into coma
- Changes in the mental function of the brain
- Loss of nerve function
Therefore, never overlook the condition. It is a highly serious condition with drastic outcomes. So, give importance to the signs or symptoms you notice. Get medical help as soon as possible.
How To Prevent Ventricular Fibrillation?
Prevention is always better than trying to find a cure after getting affected by ventricular fibrillation. You can follow some preventive measure to ensure good health. The easy to include steps can drastically improve your quality of life. So, you can include tips in your daily life.
A healthy diet is the best method to prevent a wide range of diseases. Avoiding food items like sodium, solid fats, and added sugars. Therefore, include food items like:
- Lean protein sources
- Whole grains
You need to eat heart-healthy foods like nuts, fish, skinless poultry, soy, and low-fat dairy.
Regular physical activity can keep all the organs especially your heart healthy. Therefore, try to include at least 150minutes/week moderate aerobic activity. A vigorous aerobic activity (for 75 minutes/week) or the combination of vigorous and moderate activity is ideal for good heart health.
Smoking can worsen your heart problems. Therefore, you need to quit the habit. You can take the help of your doctor or adopt strategies to stop smoking. Your doctor can suggest some good medication to reduce the symptoms or cravings of nicotine withdrawal.
Several tools are now available online to combat smoking addiction. You also need emotional support from your family and friends to beat the smoking habit. Therefore, make use of the resources to overcome the health-harming habit.
Maintain Pressure And Cholesterol Levels
Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. So, it is important to take your medications at the right time. Maintaining a healthy body weight can also keep the pressure and sugar levels normal. Make some lifestyle changes to control blood sugar and pressure.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Having too much alcohol can create an imbalance in your body and lead to heart damage. So, drink alcohol in moderation. Healthy men and women need to limit their alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks a day. While older people need to restrict themselves to one drink per day. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration and worsen the ventricular fibrillation.
Religiously follow your medication and other suggestion provided by your doctor. You need to have regular appointments and follow-up checkups to ensure your health is fine. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms worsen. So, your doctor can take the right steps to avoid severe complications.
Living With Ventricular Fibrillation
You can live with ventricular fibrillation with good coping measures and support. The disease can cause several different emotions in you. You may feel fear, anger, depression or even guilt. So, you need to focus on avoiding stress and anger. The stress and anger induced heart problems can cause severe complications. Therefore, take up some alternative therapies to reduce stress and anger. The best methods to reduce stress are:
- Relaxation techniques
Good support from your family and friends can also help you manage stress well. You need to understand that ventricular fibrillation may not show visible signs. So, you may overlook it sometimes. By conveying your problems, your close friends and family can detect the changes. It will help meet the treatment goals.
If you are at risk of ventricular fibrillation or have previous experience, then you need to maintain caution. You should follow the advice and guidelines of our healthcare provider closely. Taking your medication to control arrhythmia and frequent checkups can eliminate the risks. You also need to address the less invasive options that can provide long-term relief.
It is important that you inform people close to you about the condition. So, it helps them take the necessary steps during an emergency. Getting medical help at the right time is important to reduce the adverse effects on the body.
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