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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2001 Jan;125(1):21-4.

Fat replacement of the glycogen in the liver as a cause of death: seventy-five years later.

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Department of Pathology, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Ill 60153, USA.


Seventy-five years ago, E. R. LeCount and H. A. Singer published a report in the first issue of the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine entitled "Fat Replacement of the Glycogen in the Liver as a Cause of Death." The report described 11 patients with chronic alcoholism who died suddenly. Markedly enlarged fatty livers were the only abnormality noted at postmortem examination in each of the subjects. Groups in this country and abroad subsequently repeated the authors' observation. The mechanism of sudden death in patients with fatty livers due to chronic alcoholism is currently understood to be an abnormality in the conduction system of the heart, manifested as a prolonged QT interval. The triggering event leading to the conduction defect has been suggested to be hypoglycemia complicated by hypopotassemia and hypomagnesemia. In this review we will summarize the changes that have taken place in this field since the initial publication by LeCount and Singer.

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