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Circulation. 2003 Aug 26;108(8):965-70. Epub 2003 Aug 18.

Short QT Syndrome: a familial cause of sudden death.

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Division of Cardiology, Ospedale Mauriziano Umberto I, Torino, Italy.



A prolonged QT interval is associated with a risk for life-threatening events. However, little is known about prognostic implications of the reverse-a short QT interval. Several members of 2 different families were referred for syncope, palpitations, and resuscitated cardiac arrest in the presence of a positive family history for sudden cardiac death. Autopsy did not reveal any structural heart disease. All patients had a constantly and uniformly short QT interval at ECG.


Six patients from both families were submitted to extensive noninvasive and invasive work-up, including serial resting ECGs, echocardiogram, cardiac MRI, exercise testing, Holter ECG, and signal-averaged ECG. Four of 6 patients underwent electrophysiological evaluation including programmed ventricular stimulation. In all subjects, a structural heart disease was excluded. At baseline ECG, all patients exhibited a QT interval <or=280 ms (QTc <or=300 ms). During electrophysiological study, short atrial and ventricular refractory periods were documented in all and increased ventricular vulnerability to fibrillation in 3 of 4 patients.


The short QT syndrome is characterized by familial sudden death, short refractory periods, and inducible ventricular fibrillation. It is important to recognize this ECG pattern because it is related to a high risk of sudden death in young, otherwise healthy subjects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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