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Shortland Street

Weeknights at 7pm | TV2

More info on the Coopers' heart condition

Evan and Wendy with Jasmine in hospital - Shortland Street on TV2

@heart Charity - Shortland Street on TV2

If you need more information or advice about the health issues raised in last night's episode of Shortland Street, please touch base with @Heart.

@Heart is the only charity in New Zealand that supports children, teens and adults affected by congenital heart conditions including Long QT syndrome .

For more information or to make a donation to @Heart, call 0800 543 943 or visit

12 babies every week are born with a Congenital Heart Defect in New Zealand.  That is 624 a year.

@Heart knows what life is like living with a childhood heart condition. They have been providing support services to children with heart conditions and their families since 1984. 

Practical and emotional support is vital for all those affected, helping them cope with the day-to-day challenges of living with a childhood heart condition. 

@Heart's network of 18 affiliated branches is run by a body of dedicated volunteers, who are themselves parents and caregivers of children with heart condition. 

They know from firsthand experience how important at-home support is, and they are dedicated to helping others with similar needs.

Services provided include information, training, counselling and psychological support, specialised equipment, camps, family matching, social affiliation and financial assistance.

@Heart is the umbrella organisation for Kids@Heart, Teens@Heart, Adults@Heart and Families@Heart.  

Long QT syndrome (LQTS) - top

Long QT syndrome is an uncommon hereditary disorder characterised by abnormal electrical activity in the heart. It affects mostly children and young adults causing frequent faints or collapse resulting in sudden death. The most common form of LQTS is inherited in a dominant pattern, which means that each child of an affected parent has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the disorder. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment is available. However, an accurate diagnosis can be difficult, because not all people affected by LQTS become ill and display symptoms.

Usually, LQTS can be seen on an electrocardiogram (ECG). Every heartbeat is triggered by an electrical signal that tells the heart's muscle cells to contract. After contracting, these cells must recover - or relax - before the next heartbeat is initiated. The amount of time needed by these cells to recover can be measured on an ECG and this is called the QT interval. During the last part of this interval, the heart is vulnerable and electrically unstable. People with LQTS have an abnormally long QT interval. If the next electrical signal arrives before the muscle cells have completed their recovery period a dangerously fast heart rate can occur leading to a fall in blood pressure and loss of consciousness.

People with LQTS are sometimes identified after an unexplained fainting episode. These episodes are usually associated with surges of adrenaline, such as with sudden loud noises, intense emotional reactions, awakening from sleep or during intense physical activity, especially swimming. Currently, the primary treatment for LQTS is medication, which reduces the effects of adrenaline on the heart.

Some patients (not the majority) may benefit from pacemakers or implantable defibrillators or surgical resection of a group of nerves connecting the brain and the heart. Everyone with LQTS should avoid medications that are known to prolong the QT interval.

The incidence of Long QT Syndrome is about 1 in 2000.