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Effects of anesthesia on the heart
Date:10/27/2008

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital have created the first animal model that can reveal the side effects of anesthetic agents (the substances used to block pain during surgery) in individuals genetically predisposed to sudden cardiac death. The researchers also found that some anesthetic agents may trigger arrhythmias. The study appears in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Physiology Heart Circulation Physiology and is currently available online.

Researchers know that genetic mutations can predispose individuals to arrhythmia and/or sudden cardiac death (SCD), a leading cause of death in the United States. Between one in 2,500 and one in 5,000 individuals are born with mutations that cause long QT syndrome (LQTS), a disorder of the heart's electric system, and a determining factor in the development of arrhythmia and/or SCD. Ninety percent of the known mutations cause loss of function of ion channels responsible for LQTS types 1 and 2 (LQT1 and LQT2).

LQTS leads to a prolonged QT interval on electrocardiograms. The QT interval refers to the time it takes the chambers of the heart to "repolarize" themselves so that the heart is ready for another contraction cycle. When this timeframe is lengthened, it is associated with triggering irregular arrhythmia that can cause sudden cardiac arrest.

Earlier this year, researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Rhode Island Hospital developed a first-of-its-kind genetic animal model to study arrhythmia and SCD that mirrors what happens in individuals who have mutations of the LQT1 or LQT2 genes. With the rising interest in pharmacogenomics (the study of the effect of an individual's genotype on the body's potential response to medications) the researchers have taken the model one step further and have developed what they believe is the first model to test the safety and efficacy of drugs such as anesthetics when these genetic mutations are present
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Contact: Nancy Cawley
ncawley@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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