Posts Tagged ‘qt interval’

Human body is  now  approached by many of the physicians as  collection of  multiple  organs . This is  the price we pay for modernity in medical science. The era  of great physicians  in general medicine has gone . Now, a  super specialist  of one organ  is  rarely concerned about what is happening to the patient’s  other organ ,  it is  considered    foreign to him  ! While ,  this is the dominant thinking pattern of   modern-day specialist

Let us  travel intime  and  go to the year 1954 . . .

Three  physicians from Michigan ,USA  published  one of greatest observation in clinical sciences , namely the ECG changes in various forms of stroke .

Now , a shrewd physician  , will  suspect a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) by looking at the ECG when the clinical situation demands . But , what we need is every one should develop that skill . We have seen errors happening  even in big institutions (or is it because it is big ?)  when  an elderly person comes with deep T  inversions with or without  altered sensorium being rushed into  CCUs  & cath labs instead of  neurology units.

We  need to teach  our junior  colleagues  . . .  That ,  ECGs of patients with  acute neurological syndromes  (ANS)  can mimic as acute coronary syndromes (ACS) ( especially in elderly ) .

The following ECG changes * are observed during stroke

  • Deep  T wave inversion –   Sub arachnoid hemorrhage
  • Cerebral thrombosis   –      Prolonged QT interval, U WAVES
  • Cerebral hemorrhage –      ST segment  shifts /T inversion


The ECG changes tend to occur very early after CNS injury.May last up to 1 week. They are not useful to identify the type of stroke. But , deep T wave inversions strongly suggest SAH rather than ICH or thrombotic stroke.

What is the mechanism of these ECG changes ? 

It is a clear proof that heart and brain are interconnected by neural network. All the noted changes occur during myocardial repolarisation . (ie ST segment )  The current thinking is  (Ofcourse , it is same as our thinking  in 1950s !)  it is mediated by adreneergic surge  initiated by CNS insult  transmitted to  myocardium by the sympathetic system.

Why should SAH produce more  ECG changes than others ?

It is possible the net adrenegic drive from the brainstem and spinal cord will be greater in SAH as it  spreads the entire CNS  through the cerbro spinal fluid. While localised ICH and infarct is  likely to generate less adrenergic impulse. 


Read the link to circulation 1964 .With courtesey to circualtionaha.com


This came 50  years  ago , we still quote their work and no one has improved their work . 

Final message

If  only  we make the  clinical bed side teaching as a  regualr habit ,  we  do  justice to   our  great  physicians of the past ,   who enriched  our  life  with their  clinical  skills  and  passion for knowledge  sharing .

Read Full Post »

Here is  the link  to  one of  the best illustration for cardiac action potential  which I  have stumbled upon !

Spend some time on the following illustration  depicting  the  normal  cardiac  action potential that  explain the ionic movements . Understand why a cardiac muscle has two refractory periods , why there is a sustained dome for  myocardial action potential  and this is missing in SA and AV nodal potential ?

Click below to reach the online book

Textbook in  Medical Physiology And Pathophysiology

Essentials and clinical problems Copenhagen Medical Publisher

Note :

Red curve indicates electrical action potential .Blue depicts the mechanical contraction . Both red and blue curves together form the electromechanical systole. Realise  ,   QT interval  represents electro mechanical systole . It  includes both cardiac depolarisation and repolarisation .

There is a inherent tendency for our brains  to equate depolarisation with systole and repolarisation with diastole .It is totally a wrong perception. Please , be aware of this !

Identify the gap between the  red and blue curves that represent 50%  of ARP  .This is the time the myocytes can not be stimulated whatever be the  power of stimuli because the Na  channels are closed .

Understand ,the above action potential  represents only half of the cardiac cycle as diastole is not fully illustrated here .Recognise  the fact ,  diastole begins at the end of phase 3  and  goes into phase 4 as diastolic depolarisation  by a slow Na current.

After learning   the basics of action potential   read about the antiarrhythmic drugs . You will get to understand it better .

Learn  which drug acts on which receptors or channels and what does it do  to the various intervals  .For example ,  any drug that is prolonging an action potential  duration is fraught with risk of  ventricular arrhythmia as it is synonymous with prolonging QT interval (Eg Class 1 A /1B/Class 3) .

Sicilian gambit is the receptor & channel based classification for anti arrhythmic drugs . (Sicilian gambit 2 )

  • Understand the paradox of  QT interval getting shortens with Class 1 B (ligocaine /Mexilitine ) while 1 A  does the opposite !

Class 1   Drugs blocks sodium channels .The blockage  occurs in  a complex rate dependent fashion . It blunts the slope  the phase 0 and hence prolongs the action potential .

Class 2 . Beta blockers

Class 3 . Blocks K + Channels and hence prolongs the AP

Class 4  .Calcium blockers

Finally  don’t forget to say thanks to Copenhagen medical  publishers  for this excellent illustration .

Read Full Post »

To further understand women's heart click on the title

SCD  continues to be  the major mode of  death of  our  population . Millions of men die every year instantly .The commonest mechanism is due to primary ventricular fibrillation following an abrupt closure of coronary artery due to a thrombus.Most die , within few minutes of the event, some  before reaching the hospital , few within the ambulance  and an  unlucky few die on the CCU bed  or cath lab table even after getting the best treatment.

If we analyse the data, there is a  surprising fact !  Men form the bulk of these SCD victims.In our experience , out of 100 cases of consecutive  in hospital primary VF only  6 were females , indicating  an important  biological phenomenon to be studied.The data for out of hospital primary VF is more difficult to get , but the  log records of EMRI and emergency rescue team consistently confirm the male preponderance of primary VF .

How  does the female heart enjoys this relative immunity from primary VF even as the blood supply is acutely compromised ?

The answer  is  not known . If we are able to  decode this , one can replicate the same  model in male .

The QT paradox and incidence of primary VF

QT interval represents a combination of  electrical depolarisation and repolarisation .It is a well established   scientific  fact  that  women have   relatively  prolonged QT interval .This  is determined by evolutionary biology and  inherited characteristics of  potassium channels  during myocardial repolarisation

In simple terms, the female heart  knows how to relax slowly and prolong the electrical relaxation time.(Not mechanical)

It is also a well known  fact ischemia mediated a prolonged  QT interval is a trigger for dangerous ventricular arrhythmia.This ischemia induced QT prolongation is less pronounced in females than males as the baseline QT itself is slightly longer in women.The percentage increment of QT interval during acute ischemia is significantly higher in male .This could be one reason for the preponderance of VF in men

The billion dolor question and a real challenge for the cardiologists is

How to make a heart electrically inert during ongoing ischemia ?

  • Pain is also trigger for primary VF due to high adrenergic tone.Prompt control of chest pain make VF less likely.
  • Lignoacaine a myocardial anesthetic if administered quickly can prevent many of the primary VF.

And now , shall we  think little wildly !

What if , if  we administer lignocaine spray straight over the (or sublingually ) in every patient with  chest pain

as like a sport injury and try calm down the heart electrically !

Also read

1.Lignocaine  the forgotten hero .

2.View this video -Ignorance based cardiology !


Arrhythmias and sex hormones

Read Full Post »