What is the pathophysiology of long QT syndrome (LQTS)?

Updated: Nov 29, 2017
  • Author: Ali A Sovari, MD, FACP, FACC; Chief Editor: Mikhael F El-Chami, MD  more...
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The QT interval represents the duration of activation and recovery of the ventricular myocardium. Prolonged recovery from electrical excitation increases the likelihood of dispersing refractoriness, when some parts of myocardium might be refractory to subsequent depolarization.

From a physiologic standpoint, dispersion occurs with repolarization between three layers of the heart, and the repolarization phase tends to be prolonged in the mid myocardium. This is why the T wave is normally wide and the interval from Tpeak to Tend (Tp-e) represents the transmural dispersion of repolarization (TDR). In long QT syndrome (LQTS), TDR increases and creates a functional substrate for transmural reentry.

Hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, and use of loop diuretics are risk factors for QTc interval prolongation. [4]

LQTS has been recognized as mainly Romano-Ward syndrome (ie, familial occurrence with autosomal dominant inheritance, QT prolongation, and ventricular tachyarrhythmias) or as Jervell and Lang-Nielsen (JLN) syndrome (ie, familial occurrence with autosomal recessive inheritance, congenital deafness, QT prolongation, and ventricular arrhythmias). Two other syndromes are described, namely, Andersen syndrome and Timothy syndrome, although there is some debate on whether they should be included in LQTS.

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