What is the pathophysiology of torsade de pointes in 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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In LQTS, QT prolongation can lead to polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, or torsade de pointes, which itself may lead to ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac death. Torsade de pointes is widely thought to be triggered by reactivation of calcium channels, reactivation of a delayed sodium current, or a decreased outward potassium current that results in early afterdepolarization (EAD), in a condition with enhanced TDR usually associated with a prolonged QT interval. [5] TDR serves as a functional reentry substrate to maintain torsade de pointes.

TDR not only provides a substrate for reentry but also increases the likelihood of EAD, the triggering event for torsade de pointes, by prolonging the time window for calcium channels to remain open. Any additional condition that accelerates the reactivation of calcium channels (eg, increased sympathetic tone) increases the risk of EAD.

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