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Response of the QT interval to mental and physical stress in types LQT1 and LQT2 of the long QT syndrome
  1. K J Paavonena,
  2. H Swana,
  3. K Piippoa,
  4. L Hokkanenb,
  5. P Laitinena,
  6. M Viitasaloa,
  7. L Toivonena,
  8. K Kontulaa
  1. aDepartment of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Haartmaninkatu 4, 00290 Helsinki, Finland, bDepartment of Neurology
  1. Dr Kontulakimmo.kontula{at}


OBJECTIVE To study and compare the effects of mental and physical stress on long QT syndrome (LQTS) patients.

DESIGN Case–control study.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES QT intervals were measured from lead V3. Serum potassium and plasma catecholamine concentrations were also monitored.

PATIENTS 16 patients with type 1 LQTS (LQT1), 14 with type 2 LQTS (LQT2), both groups asymptomatic, and 14 healthy control subjects.

INTERVENTIONS Three types of mental stress tests and a submaximal exercise stress test.

RESULTS Heart rate responses to mental stress and exercise were similar in all groups. During mental stress, the mean QT interval shortened to a similar extent in controls (–29 ms), LQT1 patients (–34 ms), and LQT2 patients (–30 ms). During exercise, the corresponding QT adaptation to exercise stress was more pronounced (p < 0.01) in healthy controls (–47 ms) than in LQT1 (–38 ms) or LQT2 patients (–38 ms). During exercise changes in serum potassium concentrations were correlated to changes in QT intervals in controls, but not in LQTS patients. LQT1 and LQT2 patients did not differ in serum potassium, catecholamine or heart rate responses to mental or physical stress.

CONCLUSIONS QT adaptation to mental and exercise stress in healthy people and in patients with LQTS is different. In healthy people QT adaptation is more sensitive to physical than to mental stress while no such diverging pattern was seen in asymptomatic LQTS patients.

  • exercise
  • long QT syndrome
  • mental stress
  • potassium channel

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