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J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2005 Apr;16(4):372-7.

Effects of psychologic stress on repolarization and relationship to autonomic and hemodynamic factors.

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Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA. <>



Psychological stress can precipitate ventricular arrhythmias in patients with ICDs, as well as sudden death. However, the physiologic pathways remain unknown. We sought to determine whether psychological stress induced in the laboratory setting alters indices of repolarization associated with arrhythmogenesis.


Patients with ICDs and a history of ventricular arrhythmia underwent ambulatory ECG monitoring during a laboratory mental stress protocol (anger recall and mental arithmetic). Continuous changes in repolarization indices which have correlated with temporal and spatial myocardial heterogeneity of repolarization, including T-wave alternans (TWA), T-wave amplitude (Tamp), and T-wave area (Tarea) were analyzed in the time domain. In the 33 patients (85% male, 88% with coronary artery disease, mean ejection fraction 30%), norepinephrine, epinephrine, BP, and HR increased during mental stress. TWA increased from 22 (interquartile range 16-27) at baseline to 29 (21-38) uV during mental stress (P < 0.001). Changes in TWA correlated with changes in HR, systolic BP, and catecholamines. Tamp and Tarea also increased with mental stress (P < 0.01) but did not correlate with changes in other variables.


Psychological stress increased TWA, Tamp, and Tarea. Autonomically mediated repolarization changes may be a pathophysiologic link between emotion and arrhythmia in susceptible patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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