Ventricular fibrillation

Alternative Names

VF; Fibrillation – ventricular

Definition of Ventricular fibrillation

Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is a severely abnormal heart rhythm () that can be life-threatening.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The heart pumps blood to the lungs, brain, and other organs. Interruption of the heartbeat for only a few seconds can lead to fainting (syncope) or cardiac arrest.

Symptoms

A person who has a VF episode will suddenly collapse or become unconscious, because the brain and muscles have stopped receiving blood from the heart.

Signs and tests

VF is an emergency condition. Seek immediate medical attention.

Treatment

Ventricular fibrillation is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately to save a person’s life.

Expectations (prognosis)

VF can lead to death within a few minutes or a few days. The survival rate for a person who has a VF attack outside the hospital ranges between 2% and 25%.

Review

Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Director, Northwestern Clinic Echocardiography Lab, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/1/2010

Heart, section through the middle
Heart, front view

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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