Ventricular fibrillation is a very fast, irregular heartbeat that is caused by abnormal firing of electrical signals in the ventricles of the heart.
The electrical system of the heart is made up of several parts that communicate with one another to signal the heart muscle fibers when to contract. The SA node starts the signal causing the atria to contract. This signal travels through the AV node and on to the bundle of His, bundle branches, and Purkinje fibers causing the ventricles to contract. The flow of electrical signals is what produces a normal heartbeat.
In ventricular fibrillation, disorganized electrical impulses in the heart’s lower chambers cause the heart to stop beating (sudden cardiac arrest). The ventricles quiver uselessly, instead of pumping blood. Blood and oxygen do not reach vital organs like the brain. Ventricular fibrillation is life-threatening and requires immediate treatment from an electrical shock (defibrillation) to restart the electrical system. If sudden cardiac arrest is not treated within 7-10 minutes, it leads to sudden cardiac death.
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