Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD) is a disorder that affects the muscles of the heart. The heart is divided into four chambers: the right ventricle, left ventricle, right atrium, and left atrium. In patients with ARVD, the right ventricle or left ventricle (the chambers responsible for pumping blood to the lungs or other parts of the body) may be affected. Patients with ARVD undergo a progressive deterioration of muscle in the ventricle, and the muscle is replaced by fat and scar tissue.
Due to the deterioration of heart muscle, patients with ARVD typically experience arrhythmias, which are abnormal heart rhythms. Arrhythmia can lead to a speeding up or slowing down of the heart. If the arrhythmia is more severe, it can affect the ability of the heart to pump blood, which might result in lightheadedness, fainting, or chest pain.
In some cases, ARVD may result in sudden death if the heart is not able to pump enough blood to its own muscles, lungs, and the rest of the body. However, sudden death in patients with ARVD is not very common. Patients with ARVD who are under 35 and athletic are at the highest risk for sudden death. It is often recommended that patients with ARVD do not overexert themselves when exercising.
ARVD affects about one in 5,000 people. It can affect both men and women, but it is more common in men. Symptoms of ARVD are rarely seen in infants or young children. Symptoms of ARVD generally appear in teenagers or adults.
There is currently no cure for ARVD, but a number of options exist to treat the condition. Some options include medications that can reduce the occurrence of arrhythmias and a device called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator. A cardioverter defibrillator can be implanted in a patient's chest. It uses small electric shocks to reduce the severity of arrhythmias.
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