JOURNAL ARTICLE

New electrocardiographic leads and the procainamide test for the detection of the Brugada sign in sudden unexplained death syndrome survivors and their relatives

S Sangwatanaroj, S Prechawat, B Sunsaneewitayakul, S Sitthisook, P Tosukhowong, K Tungsanga
European Heart Journal 2001, 22 (24): 2290-6
11728150

AIMS: Sudden unexplained death syndrome occurs in previously healthy South-east Asian young adults without any structural cause of death. The common electrocardiographic (ECG) change in sudden unexplained death syndrome survivors is right bundle branch block and ST elevations in leads V(1) to V(3), which are similar to the ECG pattern in the Brugada syndrome (Brugada sign). It is difficult to diagnose the Brugada sign with the 12-lead ECG in sudden unexplained death syndrome survivors and their family members because the ECG could be transiently normalized. We proposed using the higher intercostal space V(1) to V(3) lead ECG, together with procainamide to detect the Brugada sign.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Among 20 ventricular fibrillation cardiac arrest patients, 13 sudden unexplained death syndrome survivors and their relatives (n=88) were studied using the single standard 12-lead ECG and the new six higher intercostal space V(1) to V(3) lead ECG (-V(1) to -V(3) and -2V(1) to -2V(3)). Ten sudden unexplained death syndrome survivors and relatives (n=48) who had a normalized ECG were also infused with procainamide (10 mg x kg(-1)i.v.) to unmask the Brugada sign and both ECG methods were recorded. Forty healthy individuals and 13 spouses served as the control group. Prior to the procainamide infusion, the Brugada sign could be detected in nine sudden unexplained death syndrome survivors (69.2%) and three (3.4%) relatives with the standard ECG and in 12 (92.3%) and nine (10.2%) with the new six-lead ECG. After the procainamide infusion, the Brugada sign could be demonstrated in seven sudden unexplained death syndrome survivors (70%) and seven (14.6%) relatives with the standard ECG and in nine (90%) (P=0.26) and 23 (47.9%) (P=0.0004) with the new six-lead ECG, respectively. All the controls were negative for the Brugada sign.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that the new higher intercostal space lead ECG, with or without the procainamide test is helpful in detecting the Brugada sign in sudden unexplained death syndrome survivors and their relatives.

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