Cardiovascular effects of lightning strikes.
ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of lightning strikes on the cardiovascular system.
A lightning strike can attack its victims in one of three ways: direct hit, splash or ground strike. The cardiovascular system can be affected directly by mechanical or electrical trauma during a direct hit or can be indirectly affected through effects on the total body with extensive catecholamine release or autonomic stimulation. Reported effects include hypertension, tachycardia, nonspecific electrocardiographic (ECG) changes including prolongation of the corrected QT (QTc) interval, transient T wave inversion and myocardial necrosis with creatine kinase-MB (CK-MB) fraction release.
Nineteen victims from five separate lightning strikes were studied over a 2-month period. Each patient was evaluated by serial ECG, CK-MB determinations and echocardiography.
The early (0 to 72 h) effects of lightning were demonstrated on the ECG by ST segment elevation consistent with acute current of injury, prolonged QTc interval with direct hits and nonspecific ST and T wave changes. On echocardiography, segmental or global ventricular dysfunction was seen, and pericardial effusion was also detected. During the intermediate (3- to 14-day) period, new and often marked ECG changes consistent with pericarditis or ischemia were seen. No new echocardiographic changes were detected, however, and the early abnormalities including severe left ventricular dysfunction with cardiogenic shock have reversed. The late (1 to 12 months) period revealed only one patient with long-term sequelae (recurrent pericarditis that persisted for 5 months).
Unless both entrance and exit sites are limited to the lower limbs, direct and splash lightning strikes cause myocardial damage as assessed by abnormal serum enzyme determinations or abnormal echocardiographic findings. Only direct hits resulted in echocardiographic abnormalities or a prolonged QTc interval. The degree of myocardial injury can be severe with left and right ventricular ejection fraction < 15% and can be reversible.
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ABSTRACT: To report the development of myocardial stunning and severe heart failure after lightning strike with total recovery of function. Case report. Coronary care unit at Medica Sur Clinic, Mexico. A 42-yr-old woman who was hit by lightning developed rapid and progressive hemodynamic deterioration manifested by cardiogenic shock that required invasive monitoring. Twenty-four hours after the strike, intravenous levosimendan and intra-aortic balloon pump were initiated because the patient demonstrated no significant response to management with conventional inotropic agents. Two days later, echocardiographic signs of systolic and diastolic dysfunction improved markedly. Dual-isotope-imaging myocardial perfusion testing with technetium-99m-sestamibi and thallium-201, performed 9 days after admission, showed normal perfusion and normal left ventricular systolic function. The patient exhibited complete recovery of function. The exact mechanism of abnormal contractility in the absence of direct electrofulguration is unknown but may be explained by release of oxygen free radicals, proteolysis of the contractile apparatus, and cytosolic overload of intracellular calcium, followed by reduced myofilament sensitivity to calcium. These abnormalities are consistent with stunned myocardium. Lightning strike may cause serious contractile dysfunction in the absence of irreversible myocardial injury, but the exact mechanism of this phenomenon remains unknown. We propose that lighting strike can cause myocardial stunning resulting in severe but reversible left ventricular dysfunction. The patient's recovery was facilitated by support treatment including administration of levosimendan, which increases the intracellular sensitivity to calcium, a mechanism disturbed in patients with myocardial stunning.Critical Care Medicine 02/2007; 35(1):280-5. · 6.33 Impact Factor
Article: Injuries, sequelae, and treatment of lightning-induced injuries: 10 years of experience at a swiss trauma center.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Principals. Lightning is one of the most powerful and spectacular natural phenomena. Lightning strikes to humans are uncommon but can cause devastating injuries. We analyzed lightning-related admissions to our emergency department from January 2000 to December 2010 to review and highlight the main features of lightning-related injuries. Methods. All data were collected prospectively and entered in the emergency department' database (Qualicare Switzerland) and retrospectively analyzed. Results. Nine patients with lightning-related injuries presented to our emergency department. Four were female, and five were male. The most common site of injury was the nervous system (6 out of 9 patients) followed by the cardiovascular system (5 out of 9 patients). The third most common injuries occurred to the skin (3 out of 9 patients). Four of the patients had to be hospitalized for further observation. Conclusion. Reports of lightning strikes and related injuries are scarce. The establishment of an international register would therefore benefit the understanding of their injury patterns and facilitate specific treatment.Emergency medicine international. 01/2012; 2012:167698.
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ABSTRACT: The authors reviewed the mechanisms and pathophysiology of typically encountered electrical injuries by searching English-language publications listed in MEDLINE and reference lists from identified articles. They included relevant retrospective studies, case reports, and review articles published between 1966 and 2005. The authors also searched the Internet for information related to electrocution and life-threatening electrical injuries. They found that familiarity with basic principles of physics elucidates the typical injuries sustained by patients who experience electrical shock. Death due to electrocution occurs frequently. However, patients successfully resuscitated after cardiopulmonary arrest often have a favorable prognosis. Approximately 3000 patients who survive electrical shock are admitted to specialized burn units annually. Patients with serious electrical burns admitted to the intensive care unit are trauma patients and should be treated accordingly. Initial prediction of outcome for patients who have experienced electrical shock is difficult, as the full degree of injury is often not apparent.Annals of internal medicine 11/2006; 145(7):531-7. · 16.73 Impact Factor