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Ventricular Fibrillation : Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Ventricular fibrillation is a type of heart rhythm disorder. The chambers of the heart that are supposed to throb, only vibrate when ventricular fibrillation occurs. This is caused by a disruption of electricity to the heart.

As a result, the heart is unable to pump blood throughout the body, so the blood supply that carries oxygen and nutrients to the organs of the body will stop. This condition is an emergency condition that must be treated immediately, because it can cause death in just a few minutes.

Ventricular fibrillation is most commonly found in adults aged 45-75 years and is a heart rhythm disorder that is often encountered during a heart attack. In addition, ventricular fibrillation is also the main cause of death from sudden cardiac arrest.

Ventricular Fibrillation

Symptoms of Ventricular Fibrillation

Loss of consciousness is one of the most common signs of ventricular fibrillation. The condition of ventricular tachycardia, which is a very rapid heartbeat due to abnormal electrical activity in the heart's ventricles, can also cause ventricular fibrillation.

Some of the signs and symptoms of ventricular tachycardia are:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Dizzy
  • Nausea
  • Hard to breathe
  • Loss of consciousness

Risk factors that can increase the likelihood of a person experiencing ventricular fibrillation are:




  • History of previous episodes of ventricular fibrillation
  • Previous history of heart disease
  • Congenital heart abnormalities
  • Heart muscle abnormalities (cardiomyopathy)
  • Injuries that have the potential to cause damage to the heart muscle, such as electric shock
  • Use of illegal drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine
  • Electrolyte imbalance in the body, such as magnesium or potassium

Causes of Ventricular Fibrillation

The causes of ventricular fibrillation are not always known. One of the most common causes is a disruption of electric current that goes on to the heart after a person has had a heart attack at a previous time. Or, it could also be due to other problems that cause the formation of scar tissue in the heart muscle due to a previous heart attack.

Sometimes, ventricular fibrillation can also be initiated with a very rapid heart rate, known as ventricular tachycardia. Rapid but continuous pumping of the heart is caused by the presence of abnormal electrical currents beginning in the ventricles. Most cases of ventricular fibrillation are related to heart problems that have occurred before.

Diagnosis of Ventricular Fibrillation

Ventricular fibrillation is an emergency condition. The doctor can find out that someone has ventricular fibrillation from the following various examinations:

  • Heart monitoring. A heart monitor that detects the electrical flow of the heart can show if the heart beats erratically or not at all.
  • Pulse check. In ventricular fibrillation, the pulse can not be palpable.

To ascertain the causes of ventricular fibrillation, there are several additional examinations that are usually performed, such as:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). This examination records the electrical activity of the heart through electrodes that attach to the skin. Because the injured heart muscle does not deliver electricity normally to the heart, the ECG can indicate an ongoing heart attack or a history of previous heart attacks.
  • Blood test. This check is done to see an increase in heart enzymes that enter the bloodstream. The enzyme appears when a heart muscle is damaged by a heart attack.
  • Chest X-ray. This examination uses X-rays to do heart imaging. The aim is to evaluate the size and shape of the heart and large blood vessels.
  • This examination uses sound waves to show heart imaging.
  • Coronary catheterization. This examination is done to evaluate the presence of a coronary artery, namely the potential for narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scans or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Both of these examinations can be done to diagnose a heart abnormality.

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Treatment of Ventricular Fibrillation

In an emergency, handling ventricular fibrillation (VF) focuses on keeping blood flowing throughout the body. There are 2 types of treatments that are carried out simultaneously, namely:

  • Pulmonary heart resuscitation or CPR. The CPR procedure is performed to pump the heart from the outside, namely by applying pressure from the outer wall of the chest (compression).
  • Heart shock device (defribrillation). In developed countries, especially in public areas, an automatic heart shock device (AED) is available. When a person's heart stops, this device can be directly mounted on the chest wall to analyze the heart's electricity, and will automatically provide electric shock if necessary, to restore the heart's normal rhythm.

Both of these actions really need to be studied, because they can save the lives of patients while waiting for medical help to come.

In the hospital, the patient will be given emergency help until his condition is stable. After that, the doctor will provide treatment for ventricular fibrillation, which includes:

  • Giving medicines to regulate heart rhythms. Can be a beta blocking type drug, for example bisoprolol.
  • Attach the heart ring. This procedure is performed in cases of VF caused by a heart attack, as well as to reduce the risk of further attacks. The ring aims to open the blocked blood vessels of the heart and keep them open.
  • Heart bypass surgery. This operation is also performed if VF is caused by coronary heart disease. In heart bypass surgery, new blood vessels will be created as an alternative pathway for blocked blood vessels.
  • Implantation of a heart shock device (ICD). Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) will detect heart rhythm disorders, and provide electric shock automatically to restore the heart's normal rhythm. This procedure is more effective in preventing fatal conditions due to heart rhythm disorders, compared to administering drugs.

Ventricular Fibrillation Complications

There are several complications that can occur in people with ventricular fibrillation, both because of their own illness or as a result of salvage measures, namely:

  • Brain damage
  • Skin burns due to a heart shock procedure
  • Rib injury due to CPR action

Prevention of Ventricular Fibrillation

If your doctor finds that ventricular fibrillation you are experiencing is caused by changes in the structure of the heart, the doctor will recommend undergoing medical treatment or procedures to reduce the risk of future ventricular fibrillation. For example due to scarring after a heart attack.

Some treatment options for preventing recurrence of ventricular fibrillation are:

  • The doctor will prescribe various antiarrhythmic drugs, which aim to prevent irregular heart rhythms. One class of drugs that doctors can prescribe is beta blockers, which are commonly used in individuals who are at risk of developing ventricular fibrillation.
  • Implantation of a defibrillator device. After the condition stabilizes, the doctor can recommend the installation of an implantable defibrillator to monitor the heart rhythm. If the heart rhythm is assessed too slowly, this device can send electrical signals to the heart.
  • Coronary angioplasty and stent insertion. This procedure is intended to treat severe coronary heart disease. The technique is to open a blocked blood vessel to facilitate blood flow to the heart muscle.



References

References

1. Cheniti, et al. (2017). Is VF an Ablatable Rhythm? Curr Treat Options Cardio Med.

2. American Heart Association (2016). Ventricular Fibrillation. 

3. Tidy, C. Patient.info (2014). Ventricular Fibrillation.


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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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