Hypothermia and cardiac electrophysiology: a systematic review of clinical and experimental data
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Moderate therapeutic hypothermia procedures are used in post-cardiac arrest care, while in surgical procedures, lower core temperatures are often utilized to provide cerebral protection. Involuntary reduction of core body temperature takes place in accidental hypothermia and ventricular arrhythmias are recognized as a principal cause for a high mortality rate in these patients. We assessed both clinical and experimental literature through a systematic literature search in the PubMed database, to review the effect of hypothermia on cardiac electrophysiology. From included studies, there is common experimental and clinical evidence that progressive cooling will induce changes in cardiac electrophysiology. The QT interval is prolonged and appears more sensitive to decreases in temperature than the QRS interval. Severe hypothermia is associated with more pronounced changes, some of which are proarrhythmic. This is supported clinically where severe accidental hypothermia is commonly associated with ventricular fibrillation or asystole. J-waves in human electrocardiogram recordings are regularly but not always observed in hypothermia. Its relation to ventricular repolarization and arrhythmias is not obvious. Little clinical data exist on efficacy of anti-arrhythmic drugs in hypothermia, while experimental data show the potential of some agents, such as the class III antiarrhythmic bretylium. It is apparent that QT-prolonging drugs should be avoided.
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Cardiovascular Research following peer review. The version of record Dietrichs, E.S., Tveita, T. & Smith, G.L. (2018). Hypothermia and cardiac electrophysiology: a systematic review of clinical and experimental data. Cardiovascular Research. https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvy305 is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvy305.