Some people with LQTS often have no symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may include unexplained fainting, unexplained seizures, and abnormal rate and rhythm of the heartbeat (arrhythmia). If not detected and treated, LQTS can lead to sudden death in a small proportion of patients.
If you have a family history of diagnosed LQTS or unexplained fainting, unexplained seizures, or sudden death in young people you should advise your family doctor or healthcare provider as you may be at risk of LQTS or other Inherited Rhythm Disorders.
The first step in diagnosing LQTS is by identifying prolonged QT intervals using an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). This is a printed record of your heart's electrical activity that provides information about its rhythm, chambers, heart damage and other abnormalities.
However, LQTS is a difficult condition to diagnose because sometimes patients with LQTS do not have a visibly prolonged QT interval on an electrocardiogram test. If LQTS is suspected, it is important that a family physician refer their patient to a cardiologist who specializes in cardiac rhythm disorders for further testing. Additional tests may include exercise stress testing and genetic testing.
LQTS is a treatable condition and your doctor may prescribe medication, surgery or recommend lifestyle changes.
Beta-blockers are the most commonly prescribed medication and they work by slowing your heart rate by reducing the effect of adrenaline on your heart. It is important to discuss with your doctor the medications that work best for you and to follow instructions carefully.
In certain circumstances, you may be required to have surgery on nerves that regulate your heartbeat or you may need an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) if LQTS causes abnormal heart rhythms.
If properly treated and controlled, many people with LQTS require very few changes to their normal lifestyle. However, a diagnosis of LQTS may require the patient to make some adjustments to their lifestyle. For instance certain sports or activities increase the risk of fainting or more serious events in patients with LQTS. It is important for the patient to discuss this matter with their cardiologist to determine how best to live a healthy, active lifestyle while minimizing the risk of further complications.
To find useful services to help you on your journey with heart disease, see our list of government and community agencies.