The role of ion channelopathies in sudden cardiac death: Implications for clinical practice

Claire A. Martin, Christopher L.H. Huang, Gareth D.K. Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Sudden cardiac death (SCD) following ventricular tachyarrhythmias constitutes an important clinical cause of mortality; 4% of cases may involve ion channel-mediated cellular excitation in structurally normal hearts. Alterations in such processes could disturb action potential conduction, depolarization/ repolarization gradients, or Ca2+ homeostasis with potential arrhythmogenic consequences. Although SCD may be the first presentation of arrhythmic syndromes, patients may present to the general physician with symptoms of palpitations or hemodynamic compromise, including dizziness, seizure, or syncope, particularly following exertion. In all inherited cardiac death syndromes, first-degree relatives should be referred to a cardiologist and should undergo testing appropriate for the condition. While management of patients at risk of SCD largely centers on risk stratification and, if necessary, insertion of an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, there are a number of other, pharmacological, treatments being developed. Furthermore, as the genetic basis of these diseases becomes established, genetic testing will form an increasingly important part of diagnosis, and gene-specific therapy is an area under investigation. This article bridges the gap between molecular medicine and clinical practice by reviewing recent developments in the pathophysiological understanding of SCD, and their implications for the management of patients with these complex diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-374
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Genetics
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Ventricular arrhythmia

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