Ventricular Flutters and Fibrillations: Causes And Treatment

Ventricular Flutters and FibrillationsThe NFL playoffs are off to a fantastic start, as the Colts pulled off one of the biggest come backs in NFL history, the Saints won a road playoff game for the first time in their history, and the 49ers overcame the cold of “The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field” en route to a win there.

Wild Card Weekend gave us three heart-stopping games, to be sure, and truth be told, a heart-stopping game is exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to great entertainment as a fan of the game. In the world of cardiology, however, and for those who suffer from ventricular flutters and ventricular fibrillations, “a heart-stopper” is the last thing that you want.

For someone outside the world of cardiology, it may at first glance be difficult to parse through the medical terminology present in those terms, “ventricular flutters” and “ventricular fibrillations,” but whether you’re head of cardiology at a major hospital or just someone looking to treat a friend, family member, or even yourself for these conditions, it’s always useful to have some basic information to give you grounding. Here, then, are five things that you’ll want to know regarding the causes, diagnoses, and treatments surrounding this condition.

1. The Ventricle: Before we review what a ventricular flutter or fibrillation is, it’s worth briefly giving a bit of information about the ventricle itself. To begin with, the ventricle is one of the two large chambers of the heart. Its primary purpose is to circulate blood as it collects and pumps out blood which it receives from one of atriums. The blood it collects is then directed towards the peripheral areas in the heart and lungs. You have two ventricles, each of which fulfills a distinct role in your overall circulatory system. Your left ventricle plumps oxygenated blood back into your body, while the right ventricle pumps blood to the lungs in order for it to be oxygenated. On top of this, it’s important to note that, under regular circumstances, your heart beats somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute for an adult. This is, at its most basic, the standard method of operation for your two ventricles and heart at large when everything is functioning properly.

2. The Flutter: As previously stated, the standard heart beat for and full grown adult general averages out to somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute. One of the first, and most characteristic markers of a ventricular flutter is a drastic elevation in your heart rate. During a standard ventricular flutter, your heart is likely to experience something similar to a tachycardia and can lead to beats which exceed 150 per minute, leading to beats as fast and dangerous as the 180-250 per minute. Your heart cannot sustain this kind of beating, and like an engine out of control, this sort of stress can lead to irreparable damage, or worse. This, in turn, can lead to…

3. The Fibrillation: The normal state of the heart is one of virtual clockwork—the more rhythmic the heartbeat, the healthier the patient. A fibrillation, therefore, is the is the very antithesis of this, an instance where, as a product of a ventricular flutter taking your heartbeat out of control, both in terms of the amount of beats per minute and the manner in which it beats. During a fibrillation the nice, rhythmic steadiness of your heartbeat gives way to atypical and erratic beating. This is known as a cardiac arrhythmia. Both a ventricular fibrillation and flutter should be considered an extreme threat and grounds for immediate treatment.

4. Causes: There are a variety of causes which can lead to a ventricular flutter or fibrillation. These causes can range from severe organic heart disease, which itself can be a prelude to or present with a heart attackIn addition, there are certain medications, such as quinidineand certain antidepressants which may function as triggers of aventricular flutter. There may also be secondary signs pf a ventricular flutter or fibrillation, such as, hemodynamic deterioration, your losing consciousness, and a fluctuating blood pressure and pulse.

5. Treatment: There are a wide variety of pills which may ultimately help you to regulate your blood pressure and mitigate the lasting effects of a ventricular fibrillation or flutter. However, immediately after your attack, chances are that you’ll need immediate and serious medical attention, and will likely need to undergo CPR. The shock that should be administered at this point should be roughly between 200 and 400 joules. Ultimately, you’ll need to have an ECG to determine the nature of your heartbeat and the proper course of treatment afterward. There are two kinds of wavelengths that can be observed—tonic and atonic—and these reference long, looping wavelengths or sort, compact ones. Both represent a different flutter, and will require different forms of attention.

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