Ventricular Fibrillation

Ventricular Fibrillation

Ventricular fibrillation is a type of heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia). In sufferers of this condition, the chambers of the heart that are supposed to beat only vibrate. If not treated immediately, ventricular fibrillation can be fatal.

The human heart has four chambers, consisting of two atriums and two chambers (ventricles). Under normal conditions, blood will be pumped into the atria, then pumped out of the ventricles evenly throughout the body.

In ventricular fibrillation, the electrical current that signals the heart muscle to pump blood causes the ventricles to just vibrate. As a result, the heart cannot pump blood throughout the body. This condition causes the blood supply that carries oxygen and nutrients to the body's organs to stop.

Ventricular fibrillation is a form of arrhythmia that is often found during a heart attack. This condition is also a major cause of cardiac arrest .

Causes of Ventricular Fibrillation

Ventricular fibrillation occurs as a result of a disturbance in the heart's electrical signals. There are several conditions that are suspected of causing this disorder, namely:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart muscle disease ( cardiomyopathy )
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Sepsis
  • History of heart surgery
  • History of ventricular tachycardia
  • Use of certain drugs
  • Abuse of cocaine or methamphetamine
  • Electrolyte disturbances, such as abnormal levels of magnesium and potassium
  • Electric shock
  • Chest injury from an accident or hard impact

Symptoms of Ventricular Fibrillation

The main symptom of ventricular fibrillation is  loss of consciousness . In addition, sufferers will also be seen gasping for breath or stop breathing. However, before a loss of consciousness and gasping occurs, ventricular fibrillation can cause initial symptoms in the form of:

  • Nauseous
  • Dizzy
  • A cold sweat
  • Chest pain
  • Heart beat

When to see a doctor

If you see someone faint and have other emergency symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately and perform CPR while waiting for medical help to arrive.

If you have a history of heart rhythm disturbances, whether your heart is beating fast or pounding, you can make an appointment with your doctor for further examination.

Diagnosis of ventricular fibrillation

Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is an emergency condition that must be quickly detected by checking the pulse and  examining the heart record . VF patient's pulse will generally not be felt. In addition, the results of a VF patient's heart record examination will show abnormal electrical waves.

After ventricular fibrillation is resolved, the doctor will carry out additional tests to find out the cause, including:

  • Blood tests, to check for excessive levels of heart enzymes in the blood due to a heart attack
  • Chest X-ray, to see the size and shape of the heart, and the condition of the lungs
  • Echocardiography (heart ultrasound), to get an image of the heart through sound waves
  • Cardiac catheterization , to detect blockages in the heart's blood vessels, by injecting a special dye through the catheter
  • CT scan or MRI of the heart, to see the structure of the heart more clearly

Treatment of Ventricular Fibrillation

In an emergency, treatment for ventricular fibrillation focuses on keeping blood flowing throughout the body. There are two methods that can be done, namely:

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR

The CPR procedure  is performed to pump the heart from the outside, namely by applying pressure from the outside of the chest wall (compression).

Cardiac shock (defibrillation) device

In several public areas, such as malls and airports, an automatic cardiac shock device ( AED ) is generally available. This device can be attached directly to the chest wall to analyze the heart's electricity, and automatically deliver electric shocks to restore the heart's normal rhythm.

These two actions need to be studied, because they can be performed as temporary treatments to save the patient's life while waiting for medical assistance to arrive.

At the hospital, the patient will be given emergency assistance until his condition is stable. After that, the doctor will provide several treatment steps for ventricular fibrillation, which include:

Administering heart rhythm medication

Giving this type of drug aims to help control heart rhythm disturbances. The drug given is a type  of beta blocker , such as bisoprolol.

Cardiac ablation

Cardiac ablation is a procedure that uses energy to create small scars in the heart tissue. This procedure aims to prevent abnormal electrical signals from moving in the heart, as well as restore a normal heartbeat.

Catheterization and heart ring fitting

This procedure is used to treat VF caused by coronary heart disease and heart attacks. In addition, this action is also recommended by doctors, because it can reduce the risk of further attacks.

Installation of a heart ring aims to open blocked coronary arteries and keep them open. The goal is that blood flow to the heart is maintained.

 Heart bypass surgery 

This operation is also performed when ventricular fibrillation is caused by coronary heart disease which cannot be treated with ring placement. In heart bypass surgery , the doctor will create new blood vessels as an alternative route for blocked blood vessels.

Insertion of an implanted cardiac shock device (ICD)

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator  (ICD) is a device that can be implanted in the chest wall of a patient who is at risk for heart rhythm disturbances. This device can detect an inappropriate heart rhythm, then give an electric shock automatically to restore the heart's normal rhythm.

Complications of ventricular fibrillation

There are several complications that can occur in patients with ventricular fibrillation, both due to the disease itself and due to the treatment measures, namely:

  • Faint
  • cardiac arrest
  • Damage to organs, such as the brain, kidneys and liver
  • Cargiogenic shock
  • Skin burns due to cardiac shock procedure
  • Rib injury due to CPR action
  • Dead

Prevention of ventricular fibrillation

A healthy lifestyle can maintain heart health and prevent heart attacks which can lead to ventricular fibrillation. The trick is to make changes to your lifestyle, such as:

  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise regularly, at least for 30 minutes every day
  • Adopt a balanced nutritious diet
  • Adequate sleep and rest
  • Manage stress well
  • Maintain ideal body weight according to  body mass index (BMI)

In addition to the efforts above, someone who is at risk of developing ventricular fibrillation should always wear a medical identity so that those around him know about this condition.

In addition, tell relatives and friends what to do in case of an emergency, for example by calling 119.

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