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J Arrhythm. 2016 Apr;32(2):75-81. doi: 10.1016/j.joa.2015.11.003. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

Mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias.

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School of Biomedical Sciences, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.


Blood circulation is the result of the beating of the heart, which provides the mechanical force to pump oxygenated blood to, and deoxygenated blood away from, the peripheral tissues. This depends critically on the preceding electrical activation. Disruptions in the orderly pattern of this propagating cardiac excitation wave can lead to arrhythmias. Understanding of the mechanisms underlying their generation and maintenance requires knowledge of the ionic contributions to the cardiac action potential, which is discussed in the first part of this review. A brief outline of the different classification systems for arrhythmogenesis is then provided, followed by a detailed discussion for each mechanism in turn, highlighting recent advances in this area.


Arrhythmogenic mechanisms; Focal activity; Ion channelopathy; Reentry; Sudden cardiac death

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