Gilbert Gottfried suffered from ventricular tachycardia — what to know about the heart condition
Some episodes of the condition can last just a few seconds, but longer episodes can be life-threatening. The condition also can cause the heart to stop.
Comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried death after a long illness was the result of a condition called recurrent ventricular tachycardia caused by myotonic dystrophy type 2, his friend and publicist Glenn Schwartz said.
Some key acts to know about the heart rhythm condition:
What are ventricular tachycardia symptoms?
Ventricular tachycardia is a heart rhythm problem, or arrhythmia, caused by “irregular electrical signals in the lower chambers of the heart,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
A person’s heart, at rest, usually beats about 60 to 100 times a minute. Someone with ventricular tachycardia can have a heart rate of 100 or more beats a minute.
This rapid but weaker heartbeat can keep the heart from pumping enough blood through the body.
Some episodes of the condition can last just a few seconds, but longer episodes can be life-threatening, and the condition can cause the heart to stop.
Symptoms of ventricular tachycardia can include chest pain, dizziness, pounding heartbeat, lightheadedness and shortness of breath.
More extreme episodes can cause fainting, a loss of consciousness and cardiac arrest.
What is myotonic dystrophy type II?
Myotonic dystrophy type II is an “inherited muscular dystrophy that affects the muscles and other body systems,” according to the National Institutes of Health. This typically involves muscle tensing and muscle weakness, pain and stiffness.
Symptoms usually begin during a person’s 20s or 30s and can include not being able to relax certain muscles after using them and having slurred speech.
Less common symptoms include cataracts, diabetes and abnormalities of the electrical signals that control the heartbeat.
How is ventricular tachycardia treated?
One treatment option for ventricular tachycardia, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, is radiofrequency ablation, a procedure that destroys the cells that can cause the condition. It is less effective, though, in people with structural heart disease.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator is another option. The device sends an electrical pulse to the heart “to reset a dangerously irregular heartbeat.”
Patients might also be able to take one of several medications.
No treatment might be necessary if a person doesn’t have underlying heart disease and the episodes don’t last long, according to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
What can put a person at risk?
Any condition straining the heart or causing damage to heart tissue can increase a person’s risk of ventricular tachycardia, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But several factors can contribute to heart signaling problems and be tied to ventricular tachycardia. These include a prior heart attack, coronary artery disease and the use of stimulants, other heart conditions that caused scarring on heart tissue.
Contributing: Edward Segarra
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