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Crit Care Med. 2007 Jan;35(1):280-5.

Severe stunned myocardium after lightning strike.

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Department of Cardiology, Medica Sur Clinic, Mexico City, Mexico.



To report the development of myocardial stunning and severe heart failure after lightning strike with total recovery of function.


Case report.


Coronary care unit at Medica Sur Clinic, Mexico.


A 42-yr-old woman who was hit by lightning developed rapid and progressive hemodynamic deterioration manifested by cardiogenic shock that required invasive monitoring. Twenty-four hours after the strike, intravenous levosimendan and intra-aortic balloon pump were initiated because the patient demonstrated no significant response to management with conventional inotropic agents. Two days later, echocardiographic signs of systolic and diastolic dysfunction improved markedly. Dual-isotope-imaging myocardial perfusion testing with technetium-99m-sestamibi and thallium-201, performed 9 days after admission, showed normal perfusion and normal left ventricular systolic function. The patient exhibited complete recovery of function. The exact mechanism of abnormal contractility in the absence of direct electrofulguration is unknown but may be explained by release of oxygen free radicals, proteolysis of the contractile apparatus, and cytosolic overload of intracellular calcium, followed by reduced myofilament sensitivity to calcium. These abnormalities are consistent with stunned myocardium.


Lightning strike may cause serious contractile dysfunction in the absence of irreversible myocardial injury, but the exact mechanism of this phenomenon remains unknown. We propose that lighting strike can cause myocardial stunning resulting in severe but reversible left ventricular dysfunction. The patient's recovery was facilitated by support treatment including administration of levosimendan, which increases the intracellular sensitivity to calcium, a mechanism disturbed in patients with myocardial stunning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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