Recurrent unexplained syncope may have a cerebral origin: report of 10 cases of arrhythmogenic epilepsy.
Arch Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 May;102(5):397-407
Authors: Kouakam C, Daems C, Guédon-Moreau L, Delval A, Lacroix D, Derambure P, Kacet S
BACKGROUND: Despite thorough investigation, approximately 15-20% of syncope cases remain unexplained. An underrecognized cause of syncope may occur when partial epileptic discharges profoundly disrupt normal cardiac rhythm, including cardiac asystole, the so-called arrhythmogenic epilepsy (AE). AIM: To report initial results of observations of AE in patients with recurrent, unexplained, traumatic and/or convulsive syncope. METHODS: Ten patients aged 49+/-20 years (median 49.5 years; nine women) underwent complete cardiological (including ambulatory Holter electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiography and head-up tilt test [plus electrophysiology in four patients]) and neurological (including standard electroencephalogram [EEG], computed tomography [CT] and magnetic resonance imaging scan [MRI]) assessments. RESULTS: After initial evaluation, neurocardiogenic syncope was suspected in six patients with tilt-induced hypotension+/-bradycardia. Further evaluation (prolonged inpatient video-EEG/ECG monitoring) was undertaken because of non-diagnostic syncope or uncertainty about the diagnosis of neurocardiogenic syncope. While monitored in the neurophysiology lab, a syncopal episode similar to the spontaneous episodes recurred in all 10 patients. Cardiac asystole preceded by partial seizure of temporal onset was documented in nine patients; a second-degree atrioventricular (AV) block with a cardiac rhythm of 30 beats per minute preceded by partial seizure of temporal onset was noted in one patient. Eight patients were treated successfully with antiepileptic drugs; two were refractory to antiepileptic therapy and required pacemaker implantation. No patient had recurrent syncope during a median follow-up of 102.5 months (mean 82.2+/-42; range 16-128 months). CONCLUSIONS: In patients with recurrent, unexplained, traumatic and/or convulsive syncope, AE should be considered as a possible aetiology.
PMID: 19520325 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]