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Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT)

CPVT is a condition that affects the electrical activity of your heart. It can cause an abnormal heart rhythm, known as an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias can occur during exercise and stress (events with high adrenaline levels). This abnormal heart rhythm can lead to a sudden fainting spell or a seizure. If the arrhythmia continues for a long period of time, it can cause sudden death.

What are the symptoms of CPVT?

  • Fainting, including dizziness, racing heart (palpitations) and blurred vision
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Sudden death

What causes CPVT?

CPVT is caused by a change in your DNA that affects the electrical system of the heart. The most common form of CPVT is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, meaning that each child of a parent with CPVT will have a 50% chance of inheriting the same DNA change causing CPVT. A more rare form of CPVT is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, meaning that the affected individual has two changes in their DNA, which cause CPVT. The siblings of the affected individual each have a 25% risk of having the condition.

How is CPVT diagnosed?

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), a test that measures the electrical activity of your heart
  • Exercise EKG, also known as a stress test, measures the electrical activity of your heart while you exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike
  • Holter monitoring, which is a continuous way to monitor your heart rhythm over 24 hour periods or longer
  • Genetic testing, a blood test to find a change in your DNA that causes CPVT

How is CPVT treated?

Treatment of CPVT involves treating the arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm. This treatment can include medication, surgery or an implantable device.