What causes sudden death in heart failure?

Gordon F. Tomaselli, Douglas P. Zipes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

422 Scopus citations


Patients with heart failure experience a number of changes in the electrical function of the heart that predispose to potentially lethal cardiac arrhythmias. Action potential prolongation, the result of functional downregulation of K currents, and aberrant Ca2+ handling is a recurrent theme. Significant alterations in conduction and activation of a number of initially adaptive but ultimately maladaptive signaling cascades contribute to the generation of a highly arrhythmogenic substrate. We review the changes in active and passive membrane properties, neurohumoral signaling, and genetic determinants that predispose to sudden arrhythmic death in patients with heart failure and highlight the critical unanswered questions that are ripe for future investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-763
Number of pages10
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2004


  • Arrhythmia
  • Ca handling
  • Cardiac electrophysiology
  • Heart failure
  • Ionic remodeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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