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afebrile, ventricular fibrillation, electrocardiography, brugada phenocopy, covid-19, brugada syndrome







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COVID-19 has been associated with an increased risk of both atrial and ventricular arrhythmias. Brugada syndrome (BrS), an inherited sodium channelopathy presenting with a characteristic ECG morphology, confers a baseline risk of ventricular arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation (VF), especially during febrile illnesses. However, mimics of BrS, termed Brugada phenocopies (BrP), have been noted in association with fever, electrolyte abnormalities, and toxidromes outside of viral illness. Such presentations manifest the same ECG pattern, the type-I Brugada pattern (type-I BP). Thus, the acute stage of an illness such as COVID-19, when accompanied by a first-time presentation of type-I BP, may not result in a certain diagnosis of BrS versus BrP. Thus, expert recommendations are to anticipate arrhythmia regardless of the presumed diagnosis. Here we demonstrate the importance of these guidelines and a novel report of VF in the setting of a transient type-I BP in afebrile COVID-19. We discuss the potential factors which may have triggered VF, the presentation of isolated "coved" ST elevation in V1, and the difficulty of BrS versus BrP diagnosis in acute illness. In summary, a SARS-CoV-2 positive 65-year-old male without significant cardiac history for BrS presented with type-I BP after two days of shortness of breath. Hypoxemia, hyperkalemia, hyperglycemia, elevated inflammatory markers, and acute kidney injury were present. After treatment, his ECG normalized; however, aborted VF occurred days later while afebrile and normokalemic. Follow-up ECG again revealed a type-I BP, which also became more apparent during an episode of bradycardia, a classic finding in BrS. This case suggests that there is room for larger studies to determine the prevalence and outcomes when type-I BP presents in acute COVID-19. When possible, genetic data should be obtained to confirm BrS, a notable limitation in our case. Regardless, it corroborates guideline-directed clinical management, with heightened vigilance for arrhythmia in such patients until full recovery.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.