The ventricles are the large lower chamber of the heart. They are responsible for moving blood to the organs and tissues of the body. In ventricular fibrillation, the heart’s ventricles contract in a rapid and chaotic manner. As a result, little or no blood is pumped from the heart. Unless medical help is provided immediately, ventricular fibrillation will lead to cardiovascular collapse and sudden death.
Ventricular fibrillation happens without warning. When it occurs, symptoms may include:
Loss of consciousness within seconds
Loss of color in the skin
No detectable pulse, heartbeat, or blood pressure
Ventricular fibrillation is suspected when a person collapses suddenly and has no detectable pulse or heartbeat. The diagnosis is confirmed by
. ECG records the heart’s activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle.
Ventricular fibrillation must be treated as an extreme emergency and treatment must be administered within 4-6 minutes.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
is a combination of rescue breathing and chest compressions. CPR is a temporary procedure that can help maintain some blood flow to the brain, heart, and other vital organs until trained medical personnel are available to provide more advanced treatment.
In defibrillation, an electronic device is used to give an electric shock to the heart. The electric shock helps to re-establish the normal contraction rhythms of the heart. An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable defibrillation device. Most ambulances carry AEDs. They are also frequently found in many public places, such as sports complexes.
Defibrillation should be done as soon as equipment is available.
Anti-arrhythmic drugs, such as
, may be given intravenously with continued resuscitation attempts when a person continues to fibrillate.
If the heart’s rhythm is stabilized by defibrillation, anti-arrhythmic drugs can be given to maintain the heart’s rhythm.
Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can be surgically placed in the chest to help prevent ventricular fibrillation. An ICD continuously monitors the heart’s rhythm. If it detects an abnormal beat, it automatically sends electrical impulses to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.
If you are diagnosed with ventricular fibrillation, follow your doctor's instructions.
To help reduce your chance of getting ventricular fibrillation, take the following steps:
Lower your risk of CAD:
Eat a healthful diet, one that is low in saturated fat and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
If you are overweight, lose weight.
Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit.
Avoid or limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and other substances that may contribute to
or heart disease.
Avoid unnecessary stress, and try to manage or control stressful situations that cannot be avoided.
If a person is at high risk of ventricular fibrillation, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can be surgically placed in the chest to help prevent ventricular fibrillation. In addition, anti-arrhythmic drugs may be given to prevent a future episode.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a