Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center recently discovered a genetic link between Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), a rare cardiac rhythm disease, and an increased risk for seizures. The study also found that people with LQTS who experience seizures are at greater risk of sudden cardiac death.
According to research published online this week in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, there is a clear association between the heart and the brain of LQTS patients. Patients carrying LQTS genetic mutations were three times more likely to have experienced seizures in their past, compared to their family members who did not carry those mutations. Interestingly, LQTS patients who had a history of seizures also tended to have worse cardiac symptoms.
David Auerbach, Ph.D., senior instructor of Medicine in the Aab Cardiovascular Research Institute of the University of Rochester Medical Center, and lead author of the study found seizure status to be the strongest predictor of cardiac arrhythmias -- the abnormal heart rhythms characteristic of LQTS. In fact, about 20% of the LQTS patients in the study who had a history of seizures had survived at least one lethal cardiac arrhythmia.
Auerbach's study set a new clinical precedence for the link between seizures and LQTS and provides a case for doctors to pay more attention to what is happening in LQTS patients' brains or, more broadly, to "look outside the classic organ of interest" in any disease.