Brugada Syndrome - An Under-Recognized Electrical Disease in Patients with Sudden Cardiac Death

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In 1992, Brugada and Brugada described 8 patients with a history of aborted sudden death and a distinct ECG pattern of right bundle-branch block with ST segment elevation in leads V1-V3 and normal QT interval in the absence of any structural heart disease. It is called Brugada syndrome now and is believed to be responsible for 4-12% of all sudden deaths and around 20% of deaths in patients with structurally normal hearts. Although this syndrome is observed worldwide and the exact prevalence is unknown, it is more common in the Southeast Asian countries. Repeated syncope, ventricular fibrillation, and sudden cardiac death have been reported in patients with Brugada syndrome. The clinical presentation of Brugada syndrome is distinguished by a male predominance and the appearance of arrhythmic events at an average age of 40 years. The Brugada syndrome is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner with incomplete penetrance and an incidence ranging between 5 and 66 per 10,000. The surface ECG manifestations of the syndrome can transiently disappear, but can be unmasked by potent sodium channel blockers in some cases. Mutations of the cardiac sodium channel SCN5A have been detectable in <20% of patients with Brugada syndrome. Recent genetic studies have confirmed the genetic heterogeneity of the disorder. Antiarrhythmic drugs appear to be of little use in prolonging survival and in preventing recurrences of ventricular arrhythmias. To date, implantable cardioverter defibrillator remains the best therapy to prevent sudden death in these patients.

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