The LQT3 type of long QT syndrome involves mutation of the gene that encodes the alpha subunit of the Na+ ion channel. This gene is located on chromosome 3p21-24, and is known as SCN5A (also hH1 and NaV1.5). The mutations involved in LQT3 slow the inactivation of the Na+ channel, resulting in prolongation of the Na+ influx during depolarization. Paradoxically, the mutant sodium channels inactivate more quickly, and may open repetitively during the action potential.
A large number of mutations have been characterized as leading to or predisposing LQT3. Calcium has been suggested as a regulator of SCN5A, and the effects of calcium on SCN5A may begin to explain the mechanism by which some these mutations cause LQT3. Furthermore mutations in SCN5A can cause Brugada syndrome, Cardiac Conduction disease and dilated cardiomyopathy. Rarely some affected individuals can have combinations of these diseases.
LQT3, caused by mutations of the SCN5A gene for the sodium channel, a gain-of-function mutation causes persistent inward sodium current in the plateau phase, which contributes to prolonged repolarization. Some loss-of-function mutations in the same gene may lead to different presentations, including Brugada syndrome. More than 50 mutations have been identified in this gene.
Arrhythmia suppression involves the use of medications or surgical procedures that attack the underlying cause of the arrhythmias associated with LQTS. Since the cause of arrhythmias in LQTS is after depolarizations, and these after depolarizations are increased in states of adrenergic stimulation, steps can be taken to blunt adrenergic stimulation in these individuals. These include:
Administration of beta receptor blocking agents which decreases the risk of stress induced arrhythmias. Beta blockers are the first choice in treating Long QT syndrome.
In 2004 it has been shown that genotype and QT interval duration are independent predictors of recurrence of life-threatening events during beta-blockers therapy. Specifically the presence of QTc >500ms and LQT2 and LQT3 genotype are associated with the highest incidence of recurrence. In these patients primary prevention with ICD (Implantable Cardioverster Defibrilator) implantation can be considered.
Potassium supplementation. If the potassium content in the blood rises, the action potential shortens and due to this reason it is believed that increasing potassium concentration could minimize the occurrence of arrhythmias. It should work best in LQT2 since the HERG channel is especially sensible to potassium concentration, but the use is experimental and not evidence based.
The diagnosis of LQTS is not easy since 2.5% of the healthy population have prolonged QT interval, and 10% of LQTS patients have a normal QT interval. A commonly used criterion to diagnose LQTS is the LQTS “diagnostic score” . It is based on several criteria giving points to each. With 4 or more points the probability is high for LQTS, and with 1 point or less the probability is low. Two or 3 points indicates intermediate probability.
QTc (Defined as QT interval / square root of RR interval)
>= 480 msec – 3 points
460-470 msec – 2 points
450 msec and male gender – 1 point
Torsades de Pointes ventricular tachycardia – 2 points
T wave alternans – 1 point
Notched T wave in at least 3 leads – 1 point
Low heart rate for age (children) – 0.5 points
Syncope (one cannot receive points both for syncope and Torsades de pointes)
With stress – 2 points
Without stress – 1 point