Electric shock: Cardiac effects relative to non fatal injuries and post-mortem findings in fatal cases

International Journal of Cardiology
Vittorio FineschiEmanuela Turillazzi

Abstract

The documented cardiovascular effects of an electrical shock include acute myocardial necrosis, myocardial ischemia with or without necrosis, heart failure, arrhythmias, haemorrhagic pericarditis, acute hypertension with peripheral vasospasm and anomalous, non specific ECG alterations. Studies documenting the development of acute left ventricular failure and pulmonary oedema sustain that the observed ECG changes are secondary to myocardial injury. The cause of death of victims of instantly fatal electrical accidents is ventricular fibrillation, but it is not clear if this fibrillation is due to purely electrophysiological changes or to identifiable structural abnormalities in the heart. Little is known about the morphological changes in the heart, as differing anatomical alterations are described. Data from such studies may aid in a more accurate comprehension of clinical and morphological alterations of the heart and in the development of therapeutic strategies that could counterbalance such effects.

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