If you have inherited long QT syndrome, be careful about which medications you take. Some medications — including certain appetite suppressants, decongestants and common antibiotics, such as erythromycin — may trigger dangerous heart rhythms. Ask your doctor what you can and can't take safely. Street drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines, pose a serious risk for people with long QT syndrome.

In addition, seek medical treatment right away for illnesses that could result in low blood-potassium levels, such as conditions that cause excessive vomiting and diarrhea. Such sicknesses could trigger an episode of long QT syndrome in people at risk. Your doctor may advise you not to take some drugs, such as diuretics, that lower blood-potassium levels.

For some people — especially older adults with long QT syndrome who haven't had signs or symptoms of the condition in decades — preventive measures may be all the treatment that's required.

April 20, 2012