Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia

Overview

What is arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia?

Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (say: “uh-rith-mo-jen-ic right ven-trick-yoo-lar dis-play-shuh”), also called ARVD, is a rare heart problem.

The heart has 4 sections (called chambers). The right ventricle (say: “ven-trick-uhl”) is one of these chambers. If you have ARVD, a genetic defect causes the normal heart muscle in your right ventricle to be replaced with fat and scar tissue. This can make your heart beat too fast.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of ARVD?

If you have ARVD, you may notice that your heart often beats very fast. You may feel like your heart is “skipping a beat” or that you can’t catch your breath. ARVD sometimes causes chest pain that may seem like a heart attack. Other symptoms of ARVD include dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath with activity and swelling of the legs, ankles and feet.

You should see your doctor right away if you have any of these problems. Your doctor can test you for ARVD and other heart problems.

Causes & Risk Factors

Who gets ARVD?

ARVD often runs in families. It is most common in people younger than 35 years of age, but it can happen at any age. If you have a close relative, such as a brother, sister or parent who died before the age of 40 from heart-related problems, you may be at risk for ARVD.

Treatment

How is ARVD treated?

There is currently no cure for ARVD. Treatment involves controlling abnormal heartbeats and managing heart failure. Your doctor may give you medicine (called an antiarrhythmic) to keep your heart beating at a normal rate. Some people may need a device known as a pacemaker put near their heart to control the heart beat. Some people need surgery to keep their heart from beating too fast.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • Do any of my family members need to be tested for ARVD?

  • What is the best treatment option for me? Will I need medicine? Surgery? A pacemaker?

  • How does ARVD affect my life expectancy?

  • Does ARVD put me at risk for other health problems?

  • Do I need to make any lifestyle changes? Is it safe for me to exercise?

Citations

  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia by EL Anderson, LT, MC (FS), USNR( 04/15/06, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060415/1391.html)