Ventricular Fibrillation: Explained
With a vast amount of conditions that result in heart complications, ventricular fibrillation (v-fib) is just one of the many arrhythmia conditions that can affect the human cardiovascular system.
What is Ventricular Fibrillation?
Considered a dangerous type of arrhythmia, ventricular fibrillation is a condition where an irregular heart beat, starting in the ventricle, can pose a serious risk to your health.
The condition is caused by the occurrence of an abnormality, when the electrical signals that tell your heart muscle to pump blood, make them fibrillate instead.
The human heart contains 4 chambers, with the bottom 2 chambers known as the ventricles. In order to keep blood running through your body, a healthy heart pumps blood in and out of the chambers.
Symptoms of Ventricular Fibrillation
Key symptoms of ventricular fibrillation to watch out for include:
- Acute shortness of breath
- Dizziness / Near Fainting
- Cardiac Arrest
How is Ventricular Fibrillation Diagnosed?
Healthcare providers can diagnose ventricular fibrillation via a number of different methods, such as:
- A physical examination
- Inspecting your vital signs, such as pulse and blood pressure
- Heart function tests, e.g. an electrocardiogram
- Looking into your overall medical history and health
What Causes Ventricular Fibrillation?
The specific cause for ventricular fibrillation isn’t known, although it does occur in relation to some medical conditions.
What experts do know, however, is that v-fib most commonly occurs during a cardiac arrest or not long after one.
Some other causes include various genetic conditions that affect the ion channels or electrical conduction of the heart, as well as electrolyte abnormalities such as low potassium levels.
Who is at Risk from Ventricular Fibrillation?
Common risk factors of ventricular fibrillation are as follows:
- Electrolyte abnormalities
- Specific medicines that can affect the function of the heart
- Cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscle)
How is Ventricular Fibrillation Treated?
When treating ventricular fibrillation, there are 2 stages to be considered. The initial stage is to instantly restore your blood pressure and pulse, whilst the 2nd stage aims to reduce the risk of an individual developing v-fib in the future.
Treatment for ventricular fibrillation includes:
- Medication – this may be provided to reduce the risk of/ control the arrhythmia. Alternatively, medication might be prescribed immediately to deal with the effects of v-fib, to control and prevent another episode.
- CPR – In order to keep the blood moving, the first response might be to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
- Defibrillation – An electrical shock from the AED can correct the signals which tell your heart muscles to fibrillate as opposed to pumping blood. Typically, you will need this during or immediately after the ventricular fibrillation episode.
Respond Rapidly to V-Fib with an AED
Ensure that those around you have access to life-saving equipment by investing in an AED.