Guest blog by Sean Jenkins

Sean Jenkins

Lovin’ Everyday Foundation

21 May 2020

May Blog: Congenital LQTS vs Acquired LQTS

Happy May “Lovin’ Everyday” Family! I hope you guys are doing well during this confusing time. Quarantine has taken a toll on a lot of us and I am praying that everyone is doing well physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. I have had the honor to write this month’s blog for the website and I wanted to talk about the different types of Long QT Syndrome and how they compare and contrast with each other. 

First I wanted to observe a few unknown facts about Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). This condition which affects the heart is very uncommon in the United States, with fewer than 200,000 cases annually. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 7,000 people are affected by the condition and in the United States, it can result in up to 3,500 deaths each year.

Very sadly one of my close friends Matthew LeMoyne passed away from LQTS complications in 2017. To honor him, I want to continue to spread awareness on Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndrome (SADS) and LQTS and hopefully provide insight and more information on the conditions to help the public learn more about it.

This month, I would like to observe the different types of LQTS that can affect people. The first one is known as inherited LQTS or “congenital LQTS.” This means the condition is developed as a result of genetic influence. This is the most common form that people have, much of which can be inherited down a family line due to an offspring acquiring the genes of the parents who may not know that they have the condition. Many times patients of LQTS and SADS do not show symptoms which makes the condition difficult to detect without an Electrocardiogram (EKG). The condition is most often found in the dominant gene and contracted in an “autosomal dominant manner,” however, it can also be found more uncommonly in the recessive gene.

The other type of LQTS is called “acquired LQTS.” This can occur in people who may not have a genetic abnormality. This type of acquired syndrome can be commonly seen in cases where certain antiarrhythmic medications can result in unhealthy and lengthy periods between each heartbeat. This results in what is known as “QT Prolongation.” This occurrence can be considered a side effect of these certain antiarrhythmic medications and can extend the delays of ventricular polarizations. In other words, some of these medicines have a risk factor of extending the time it takes for the heart to recharge between heartbeats. This does not necessarily mean that one should NOT use antiarrhythmic medicines, however, the side effects of QT Prolongation should be seen as a risk factor when using these medications. QT Prolongation and these acquired types of LQTS can also be affected negatively by other non-cardiac medicines such as antibiotics and antihistamines. Studies show that when a patient with LQTS or SADS increases a medicinal dosage, the risk factor of QT Prolongation increases as well. Other forms of acquired LQTS can occur from low levels of potassium and magnesium within an individual’s blood, which can result in an abnormal heart rate and a reduced supply of blood.

So when comparing these two types of LQTS, the congenital or inherited form is much more common and originates from genetic properties entwined within the strands of the parent’s DNA, which results in an offspring having the risk of the syndrome (similar to how parent’s genetics can determine the eye color, hair color, race, etc of the offspring). On the other hand, acquired LQTS is much less common and can be contracted from medicines or low levels of potassium and magnesium, etc. 

So how can one determine whether or not they have LQTS? Unfortunately, most patients are asymptomatic when they have LQTS. The most proper and accurate way to tell is with an electrocardiogram (EKG), as it can determine if there are abnormalities within the heart rate. Studies have shown that those who have found out that they had LQTS and received treatment, have less than a 1% mortality rate after twenty years, which is a substantial decrease from that of those who are left untreated after fifteen years, those of which have a mortality rate of higher than 50%, especially if they had gone into cardiac arrest before as a result of LQTS or another cardio-related condition such as a myocardial infarction.

Finally, how can one spread awareness of LQTS and SADS? Well, I firmly believe that creating a community of people who fight to inform others on the cause is beneficial and crucial, just as our Milton and Alpharetta community has done! Teaching people how to perform CPR, providing AEDs in schools and public locations, and donating to your local and national LQTS and SADS foundations can also help towards the cause. The more people who are aware of this condition, the better! 

I hope you enjoyed this month’s blog and I send my best wishes to the LeMoyne family. I also would like to thank Mrs. Anne LeMoyne for providing me with this wonderful opportunity. I am so grateful.

Fly high, Magic Matt. We love you.

(Sean Jenkins)