Ventricular Fabrilation

An overview of Ventricular Fibrillation

  • Ventricular Fibrillation is a medical term used to denote a heart ailment in which the heart experiences erratic contractions which leads tocardiac arrest among other things. The cardiac muscle undergoes contraction and this includes the contraction of the ventricles as well.
  • It is difficult to fully recognize a ventricular fibrillation as one cannot recognize it   by observing the major pulse points of the arteries. Only through the process of electrocardiography can one be sure of the condition and this processshould be done at the earliest.
  • This particular kind of ailment can prove to be very dangerous and fatal to the patient unless prompt action is taken. If one does not intervene by carrying out BLS or ACLS, then it could lead to a condition called ‘Asystole’ wherein the heart ceases to function due to the absence of any electrical activity. It becomes really difficult to revive a person from this stage.
  • In this condition, the heart suffers a shock as the rhythm is totally disturbed. Due to this, it does not function properly and ceases to pump blood which in turn leads to SCD or Sudden Cardiac Death.
  • Even if the person is somehow revived from this condition, one cannot rule out the possibility of brain damage, which in many cases is irreversible.

Signs and symptoms of Ventricular Fibrillation

  • Sudden cardiac death, commonly known as a heart attack is caused by ventricular fibrillation. This happens because of the random twitching of the ventricular muscle of the heart.
  •  It disturbs the rhythm of the heart and thus the heart is unable to function i.e. pump blood in to the rest of the body, systematically. This condition is mostly observed in people with some sort of ischaemic heart disease.
  • Even a seemingly healthy person can suffer from a sudden occurrence of ventricular fibrillation.

Causes for Ventricular Fibrillation

  • It has proven to be extremely difficult and nearly impossible to exactly state the causes for ventricular fibrillation. This ailment is not specific to a certain kind or group of people   which in turn makes the job more difficult.
  • However, research has shown that people leading an unhealthy lifestyle are more prone to suffering from ventricular fibrillation. No physical exercise, chain smoking, excessive drinking, absence of adequate nutrition, obesity and overweight are some of the things which lead to an occurrence of ventricular fibrillation.
  • People who exercise regularly and eat and live healthy have also been reported to be suffering from this condition. The heart is able to function due to the rhythmic movement of the various muscles of the organ simultaneously. I
  • If the rhythm is disturbed due to some reason, then the whole system goes haywire and the heart stops functioning.

Treatments available for VF

  • Electric defibrillator is the machine used to reverse this condition in   majority of the cases. It is also the first treatment prescribed to a patient undergoing Ventricular fibrillation. This machine discharges a direct electric current which is meant to restart or reboot the heart.
  • In some patients, who have extremely weak hearts that are susceptible to ventricular fibrillation, doctors resort to implanting a cardioverter defibrillator in their hearts.
  • Depending on the circumstances, sometimes a defibrillator is not available. In such a case one can resort to a treatment called ‘Precordial Thump’, though the chances of this working are slim. This technique is not used in the hospitals   as the success rate is low.
  • The energy released by a precordial thump is a mere 30 joules which is negligible compared to the 200-360 joules needed to restart the heart. In some cases, drug therapy is also applied.
  • If all else fails then the patient is injected with antiarrhythmic agents such as amiodarone and lidocaine etc. The success rate for such treatment is also very low and in many cases it is the last resort.

Prevention of VF

  • One cannot exactly prevent a ventricular fibrillation. Although leading a healthy lifestylecoupled with a nutritious diet and regular exercise certainly helps reduce the chances of this condition.