The Brugada syndrome (BrS) is a hereditary arrhythmic syndrome manifesting as syncope or sudden cardiac death (SCD) in individuals without overt structural heart disease. Currently, its diagnosis is mainly based on the presence of a spontaneous or Na+-channel blocker induced so-called “type 1” Brugada electrocardiographic (ECG) pattern typically seen in leads V1 and V2 recorded from the 4th to 2nd intercostal spaces. Presently the main unresolved clinical problem in the BrS is the identification of patients at high risk of SCD who need implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). Current guidelines recommend ICD implantation only in patients with spontaneous type 1 ECG pattern and either history of aborted cardiac arrest or documented sustained ventricular tachycardia (class I) or syncope of arrhythmic origin (class IIa) because they are at high risk of recurrent arrhythmias. However, the majority of BrS patients are asymptomatic when diagnosed and have generally low risk (0.5 % annually or lower) and therefore are not indicated for ICD. Most of SCD victims in the BrS have had no symptoms prior to the fatal event and therefore were not protected with an ICD. Currently there are no reliable methods to identify these potential victims of SCD. Although some ECG markers such as QRS fragmentation and infero-lateral early repolarisation have been demonstrated to signify increased arrhythmic risk their value still needs to be confirmed in large prospective studies. Novel risk assessment strategies need to be developed based on computerised quantitative ECG analysis of large digital ECG databases in patients with BrS and their relatives, and combined assessment of the most important factors of ventricular arrhythmogenesis.
Velislav N Batchvarov - Organization : Cardiovascular and Cell Sciences Research Institute, St George’s University of London, London, UK