Ventricular fibrillation is the most serious type of heart arrhythmia that can result in sudden cardiac arrest, a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
During ventricular fibrillation (also known as V-fib or VF) the heart’s electrical system becomes chaotic and disordered, causing the lower chambers (ventricles) to “flutter” instead of beat normally and pump blood to the body.
Symptoms of VF may include palpitations (sensations of a racing heart), lightheadedness, chest tightness, shortness of breath, nausea and fainting.
Ventricular fibrillation can occur suddenly and may be brought on by a heart attack or preceded by ventricular tachycardia (rapid heart rate). It’s important to get immediate help and dial 911 if you suspect possible heart problems such as ventricular fibrillation.
Restoring a regular heartbeat is the first priority for preventing potential brain damage, heart damage and possibly death.
During a ventricular fibrillation occurrence, emergency medical personnel may:
- Listen to the chest for evidence of a heart beat
- Check blood vessels of the wrist or neck for a pulse
- View heart activity and its rhythm on a cardiac monitor
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Use of an automated external defibrillator to deliver shocks to the heart
- Immediate transport to a hospital emergency room for comprehensive heart diagnosis and medical treatment