Background The early repolarization (ER) pattern is a common ECG finding. Recent studies established a definitive clinical association between ER and fatal ventricular arrhythmias. However, the arrhythmogenic substrate of ER in the intact human heart has not been characterized. Objectives To map the epicardial electrophysiological (EP) substrate in ER syndrome patients using noninvasive Electrocardiographic Imaging (ECGI), and to characterize substrate properties that support arrhythmogenicity. Methods Twenty-nine ER syndrome patients were enrolled, 17 of which had a malignant syndrome. Characteristics of the abnormal EP substrate were analyzed using data recorded during sinus rhythm. The EP mapping data were analyzed for electrogram morphology, conduction and repolarization. Seven normal subjects provided control data. Results The abnormal EP substrate in ER syndrome patients has the following properties: (1) Abnormal epicardial electrograms characterized by presence of J-waves in localized regions; (2) Absence of conduction abnormalities, including delayed activation, conduction block, or fractionated electrograms; (3) Marked abbreviation of ventricular repolarization in areas with J-waves. The action potential duration (APD) was significantly shorter than normal (196±19 vs. 235±21 ms, p<0.05). Shortening of APD occurred heterogeneously, leading to steep repolarization gradients compared to normal control (45±17 vs.7±5 ms/cm, p<0.05). Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) were recorded in 2 patients. The PVC sites of origin were closely related to the abnormal EP substrate with J-waves and steep repolarization gradients. Conclusions Early Repolarization is associated with steep repolarization gradients caused by localized shortening of APD. Results suggest association of PVC initiation sites with areas of repolarization abnormalities. Conduction abnormalities were not observed.
Zhang, J., Hocini, M., Strom, M., Cuculich, P. S., Cooper, D. H., Sacher, F., … Rudy, Y. (2017). The Electrophysiological Substrate of Early Repolarization Syndrome. JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology, 3(8), 894–904. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacep.2016.12.017