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Novel insight into the natural history of short QT syndrome.

OBJECTIVES: This study intends to gain further insights into the natural history, the yield of familial and genetic screening, and the arrhythmogenic mechanisms in the largest cohort of short QT syndrome (SQTS) patients described so far.

BACKGROUND: SQTS is a rare genetic disorder associated with life-threatening arrhythmias, and its natural history is incompletely ascertained.

METHODS: Seventy-three SQTS patients (84% male; age, 26 ± 15 years; corrected QT interval, 329 ± 22 ms) were studied, and 62 were followed for 60 ± 41 months (median, 56 months).

RESULTS: Cardiac arrest (CA) was the most frequent presenting symptom (40% of probands; range, <1 month to 41 years). The rate of CA was 4% in the first year of life and 1.3% per year between 20 and 40 years; the probability of a first occurrence of CA by 40 years of age was 41%. Despite the male predominance, female patients had a risk profile superimposable to that of men (p = 0.49). The yield of genetic screening was low (14%), despite familial disease being present in 44% of kindreds. A history of CA was the only predictor of recurrences at follow-up (p < 0.0000001). Two patterns of onset of ventricular fibrillation were observed and were reproducible in patients with multiple occurrences of CA. Arrhythmias occurred mainly at rest.

CONCLUSIONS: SQTS is highly lethal; CA is often the first manifestation of the disease with a peak incidence in the first year of life. Survivors of CA have a high CA recurrence rate; therefore, implantation of a defibrillator is strongly recommended in this group of patients.

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