Once you've been diagnosed with long QT syndrome, several steps can help you avoid serious consequences of the illness. These steps include:
- Don't overexert yourself. You don't necessarily have to give up sports if you have long QT syndrome. Your doctor may permit recreational activities as long as you have a buddy along in case you have a fainting episode. In general, people with long QT syndrome should never swim alone.
Strenuous exercise may be dangerous and is not recommended for some people with long QT syndrome. However, other people may be at such low risk of complications that they may be able to continue strenuous exercise and competitive sports. Discuss this issue with your doctor carefully.
- Know your symptoms. Be fully aware of symptoms that can warn you of irregular heart rhythms and decreased blood flow to your brain. Remember, a fainting episode from long QT syndrome is one of the most important warning signs for future, long QT-related spells that could be even more dangerous, even deadly.
- Inform other people. Make family, friends, teachers, neighbors and anyone else who has regular contact with you aware of your heart condition. Wear some sort of medical alert identification to notify health care professionals of your condition.
In addition, have plans in place in the case of an emergency cardiac event. Urge family members to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) so that they can provide immediate resuscitation efforts if it ever becomes necessary. In some situations, possession of or rapid access to an automatic external defibrillator (AED) may be appropriate.
- Control startling events as much as possible. Turn down the volume on doorbells and, if possible, turn off the telephone ringer or your cellular phone at night.
Sexual intercourse doesn't appear to increase the risk of long QT syndrome. Pregnancy and delivery aren't associated with increased risk of symptoms in women with long QT syndrome. Nonetheless, your doctor will want to monitor you closely both during your pregnancy and after if you have inherited long QT syndrome. Women with long QT syndrome, especially a form called LQT2, are at increased risk during the postpartum period and need careful monitoring.
April 20, 2012
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