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Pathogenesis and management of Brugada syndrome in schizophrenia: A scoping review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Anuj Rastogi, Dylan Viani-Walsh, Shareef Akbari, Nicholas Gall, Fiona Gaughran, John Lally

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-91
Number of pages9
Early online date6 Oct 2020
Accepted/In press28 Sep 2020
E-pub ahead of print6 Oct 2020
Published1 Nov 2020


King's Authors


Context: Excess cardiovascular morbidity and an increased prevalence of sudden cardiac death (SCD) contributes to premature mortality in schizophrenia. Brugada syndrome (BrS) is an important but underrecognized cause of SCD. It is more commonly seen in schizophrenia than in general population controls. Methods: We conducted a scoping review to describe the pathogenesis of BrS in schizophrenia and to identify the psychotropic medications that increase the risk of unmasking BrS and associated ventricular arrhythmias resulting in SCD. Findings: Schizophrenia and BrS share similar calcium channel abnormalities, which may result in aberrant myocardial conductivity. It remains uncertain if there is a genetic pre-disposition for BrS in a subset of patients with schizophrenia. However, the unmasking of Brugada ECG patterns with the use of certain antipsychotics and antidepressants increases the risk of precipitating SCD, independent of QT prolongation. Conclusions and future directions: Specific cardiology assessment and interventions may be required for the congenital or unmasked Brugada ECG pattern in schizophrenia. The current long-term standard of care for BrS is an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), but post-implantation psychological effects must be considered. Careful use of antipsychotic and other psychotropic medications is necessary to minimize proarrhythmic effects due to impact on cardiac sodium and calcium ion channels. When prescribing such drugs to patients with schizophrenia, clinicians should be mindful of the potentially fatal unmasking of Brugada ECG patterns and how to manage it. We present recommendations for psychiatrists managing this patient population.

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