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Tex Heart Inst J. 1993;20(3):158-69.

Brain-heart interactions. The neurocardiology of arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, UMDNJ-NJ Medical School, East Orange 07018.


Neuroanatomic connections between the brain and the heart provide links that allow cardiac arrhythmias to occur in response to brain activation. Recognition and analysis of such links in the pathogenesis of malignant cardiac arrhythmia are emphasized in this review. Neurocardiac links have been shown to produce arrhythmia both experimentally and clinically; specific examples, including stroke, epilepsy, and environmental stress are presented. We hypothesize that the individual with a diseased heart has a greater likelihood of experiencing cardiac arrhythmia and sudden cardiac death when the neurocardiac axis is activated. Reviewing possible mechanisms of brain-related arrhythmias, we suggest that the nervous system directs the events leading to cardiac damage by raising catecholamine levels and potentially inducing arrhythmia.

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