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Int J Cardiol. 2013 Jul 31;167(2):328-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.06.107. Epub 2012 Jul 16.

Electrocardiographic abnormalities and cardiac arrhythmias in structural brain lesions.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, Ioannina, Greece.

Abstract

Cardiac arrhythmias and electrocardiographic abnormalities are frequently observed after acute cerebrovascular events. The precise mechanism that leads to the development of these arrhythmias is still uncertain, though increasing evidence suggests that it is mainly due to autonomic nervous system dysregulation. In massive brain lesions sympathetic predominance and parasympathetic withdrawal during the first 72 h are associated with the occurrence of severe secondary complications in the first week. Right insular cortex lesions are also related with sympathetic overactivation and with a higher incidence of electrocardiographic abnormalities, mostly QT prolongation, in patients with ischemic stroke. Additionally, female sex and hypokalemia are independent risk factors for severe prolongation of the QT interval which subsequently results in malignant arrhythmias and poor outcome. The prognostic value of repolarization changes commonly seen after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, such as ST segment, T wave, and U wave abnormalities, still remains controversial. In patients with traumatic brain injury both intracranial hypertension and cerebral hypoperfusion correlate with low heart rate variability and increased mortality. Given that there are no firm guidelines for the prevention or treatment of the arrhythmias that appear after cerebral incidents this review aims to highlight important issues on this topic. Selected patients with the aforementioned risk factors could benefit from electrocardiographic monitoring, reassessment of the medications that prolong QTc interval, and administration of antiadrenergic agents. Further research is required in order to validate these assumptions and to establish specific therapeutic strategies.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22809542
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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