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The Signs, Symptoms and Treatments for Ventricular Fibrillation

Posted Aug 06 2010 1:15am

Ventricular Fibrillation or V-fib is the result of the heart contracting and relaxing in rapid succession. This event leads to a lack of cardiac output which does not allow for blood, oxygen and nutrients to flow properly throughout the body. In this event, sudden death can occur.

Chemical imbalances and heart disease are the main causes for V-fib.

The Imbalance of Electrolytes:

Electrolytes are important chemicals needed for the heart to function normally. If too much or not enough electrolytes exist in the body, the heart reacts by not beating effectively, leading to arrhythmia or sudden cardiac death.

Chicken noodle soup is rich in electrolytes and great to eat when not feeling well, but caution must be used with processed soups as they tend to be high in salt content. This is not advisable for persons who must monitor their sodium intake. Fresh homemade heart healthy soups are best.

Electrolytes Include:

Bicarbonate Calcium Chloride Magnesium Phosphate Potassium Sodium Sulfate

Electrolytes, including all listed above must be in perfect balance in the body. These can be lost or become imbalanced when the body loses fluids rapidly such as excessive sweating or frequent urination. Once the imbalance has occurred, the result is a cardiac arrhythmia.

The Symptoms:

When the heart is not pumping blood effectively, as in ventricular fibrillation, the victim will collapse and become unresponsive, due to the heart ceasing to function. There is no pulse or blood pressure. Prior to the onset of a V-fib episode, the patient may voice complaints of chest heaviness, difficulty breathing, and profuse sweating.

What is the Treatment?

V-fib has dire consequences and is treated via emergency measures. Cardioversion using a defibrillator shocks the heart back into rhythm, as well as the administration of anti-arrhythmic medications given intravenously. All work together to get the heart back into normal sinus rhythm (NSR). In some cases, the doctor may employ a technique called carotid massage, which releases chemicals into the body that slow down the heart rate. Carotid massage is usually reserved for younger patients because of the risk of stroke in older patients. However, it has been used on older patients as necessary and depending on their present condition.

Use Prevention:

V-fib can lead to sudden fatality. After a patient is successfully resuscitated, they may require the assistance of a mechanical ventilator to breathe for them until they are stable enough to breathe on their own. These patients also run the risk of experiencing another attack. Heart attack victims also run this same risk. Oftentimes, a surgical procedure may be used to offset this risk. A defibrillator or pacemaker is inserted in the upper left area of the chest. When the patient experiences an arrhythmia, the device sends out small shocks to the heart to keep it at a normal pace.

I believe CPR should be taken by everyone as well as being a mandatory course in school. This knowledge is crucial if small children or the elderly reside in the home. Your local Red Cross offers this course and it usually lasts only 2 to 3 days. Its a small price to pay for having the skills to save a life.

Barb Hicks is an established writer and licensed registered nurse who loves to share her knowledge. You can find her class about What Are Heart Palpitations and other lessons like Treatment for Cardiogenic Shock on Clivir – the Free learning Community Site.

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