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Brugada Syndrome

by L. Brent Mitchell, MD

Brugada syndrome is an inherited disorder of the heart's electrical system.

Brugada syndrome is an inherited disorder that affects the electrical system of the heart. People may have no structural heart disease such as a heart attack or a heart valve disorder, but recent research suggests that Brugada syndrome may be related to other genetic and acquired heart disorders such as long QT syndrome.

The electrical defects sometimes cause ventricular tachycardia (see Ventricular Tachycardia) or ventricular fibrillation (see Ventricular Fibrillation).

Some people never have any symptoms, but many people have fainting because of ventricular tachycarida. Those who have ventricular fibrillation have sudden cardiac arrest. Symptoms occur more often at night. They may be triggered by fever or treatment with some drugs, including some antiarrhythmic drugs and some antidepressants.

Electrocardiography (ECG) is used to make the diagnosis. But sometimes the pattern of ECG abnormalities is less clear. In such cases, doctors give people a drug that makes the pattern more pronounced, enabling doctors to make a diagnosis.

Usually, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD, a small device that can detect an arrhythmia and deliver a shock to correct it—see Abnormal Heart Rhythms:Restoring normal rhythm) is used. This procedure is similar to implantation of an artificial pacemaker.