Ventricular fibrillation is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately.
The goal of treatment is to restore blood flow as quickly as possible to prevent damage to vital organs.
Once blood flow is restored, treatment is given to prevent future episodes.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) – this mechanically helps to restore blood flow to vital organs by mimicking the pumping action of the heart.
– Call for emergency help immediately.
– CPR can be performed by anyone trained in CPR including a family member until medical personnel arrives.
– As per new regulations, chest compressions must be initiated first rather than giving rescue breaths. Count 30 chest compressions that must be given hard and fast (at a rate of 100 beats per minute) over the chest. Allow the chest to rise completely between compressions.
After 30 chest compressions are given, mouth-to-mouth breathing must be given with 2 rescue breaths with the person’s neck in an extended position to allow airflow through the airways.
Repeat chest compressions and rescue breaths until help arrives.
Defibrillation- this is a device used to deliver a quick electric shock through the chest wall. This is given to ‘shock’ the heart out of the chaotic rhythm and usually allows the heart to resume a normal heart rhythm.
A shock may be given by medical personnel or may be given through a public-use defibrillator. A public defibrillator can be located in public places including airports, schools, malls, and community centers. A public defibrillator is called an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
Once a person collapses and CPR is initiated, an AED must be retrieved. Turn the device on by pushing the power button. In the AED kit, two pads will be provided that must be matched up accordingly to the areas over the chest to the pictures given on the pads. The device will detect if the heart is to be shocked or not. If the heart requires a shock, stand clear and press the “Shock” button. CPR must be resumed until help arrives or until the person begins to move.
It is important to take a CPR class especially in those with family members who are at risk.
Cardioversion: if pulse is present, in a hospital setting a shock is delivered to your heart through pads attached to the chest wall. The current interrupts the electrical impulses in the heart and restores a normal rhythm.
Treatment to prevent future episodes
If structural damage has occurred in the heart after ventricular fibrillation episode, medications or a medical procedure may be recommended to reduce the risk of a future episode.
Various anti-arrhythmic drugs may be used in the long term treatment of ventricular fibrillation.
Different classes of medications may be used including beta blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and anti-arrhythmics (amiodarone).
Since there is a stagnation of blood in the heart during fibrillation, blood clots commonly develop in the heart. Medications are used to prevent the formation of blood clots.
These drugs include:
2. Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD)
After fibrillation has been stabilized, an ICD implantation may be recommended.
This is a small implantable device used to detect abnormal heart rhythms and shock the heart out of the dangerous rhythm.
3. Catheter ablation:
is a hospital procedure done to destroy areas on the heart that are causing irregular heart rhythms.
A thin flexible tube is inserted into a blood vessel to access the heart. Heat is applied to the tip of the catheter to permanently destroy small areas of abnormal heart tissue.
The damaged tissue is no longer capable of generating electrical impulses.