Author + information
- Received May 10, 1993
- Revision received January 13, 1994
- Accepted January 28, 1994
- Published online July 1, 1994.
- N.Sydney Moise, DVM, MS∗,
- Vicki Meyers-Wallen, DVM, PhD,
- William J. Flahive, BA,
- Beth A. Valentine, DVM, PhD,
- Janet M. Scarlett, DVM, PhD,
- Cynthia A. Brown, BA,
- Matthew J. Chavkin, DVM,
- Dee A. Dugger, MS,
- Shari Renaud-Farrell, BS,
- Bruce Kornreich, DVM,
- William C. Schoenborn, BS,
- Jennifer R. Sparks, BS and
- Robert F. Gilmour Jr., PhD
- ↵∗Address for correspondence: Dr. N. Sydney Moise, Department of Clinical Sciences, College cf Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.
Objectives. This report describes a unique group of German shepherd dogs with inherited ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death. Before death, these dogs have no evidence of cardiovascular failure.
Background. There are few spontaneous animal models of sudden death that permit intensive investigation.
Methods. To determine the temporal evolution of ventricular arrhythmias and to characterize ihe syndrome of sudden cardiac death in these dogs, 24-h ambulatory electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring, echocardiograms, electrophysiologic testing and breeding studies were conducted.
Results. The 24-h ambulatory ECGs from dogs that died showed frequent ventricular arrhythmias with rapid polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (rates > 480 beats/min). Affected dogs had a window of vulnerability for arrhythmias, with the highest incidence and severity of arrhythmias between 20 to 30 and 40 to 50 weeks of age. Affected dogs that died did not have prolongation of the QT interval over a spectrum of heart rates compared with unaffected dogs. The clinical arrhythmia was not induced in dogs during programmed electrical stimulation. Severely affected dogs monitored > 5 years did not develop any evidence of heart failure or cardiomyopathy, and no histopathologic abnormalities existed. Seventeen dogs died suddenly (age 4 to 30 months) and were either 1) found dead at first observation in the morning (n = 8), 2) observed to die during sleep (n = 4), 3) observed to die while resting after exercise (n = 3), or 4) observed to die during exercise (n = 2). All sudden deaths occurred between the end of September and April, with most (n = 11) during January and February.
Conclusions. The cause of the inherited severe ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death in these young German shepherd dogs is still undetermined. A purely arrhythmic disorder is supported by the lack of cardiac pathology. Moreover, the window of vulnerability to ventricular arrhythmias and the age and circumstances of death invite speculation about the role of the autonomic nervous system.
☆ This study was funded in part by National Institutes of Health Grants HD28938-01 and BRSG F07RR05462, Bethesda, Maryland and the College of Veterinary Medicine Alumm Unrestricted Funds, Ithaca, New York.
- Received May 10, 1993.
- Revision received January 13, 1994.
- Accepted January 28, 1994.