Living with long QT syndrome

Published: November, 2008

Slow recovery between heartbeats can cause problems, including sudden death.

When people talk about the heartbeat, the forceful contractions of the heart's four chambers get most of the attention. But the pause between beats is just as important. This pause that refreshes the heart is normally much quicker than the blink of an eye. In some people, though, it lasts longer than it should. The delay signals that heart muscle cells are having trouble getting ready for the next contraction. This can lead to a fast, erratic rhythm that can cause shortness of breath, fainting, and sometimes even sudden death.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »