Aborted sudden death, transient Brugada pattern, and wide QRS dysrrhythmias after massive cocaine ingestion

J Electrocardiol. 2001 Oct;34(4):345-9. doi: 10.1054/jelc.2001.26318.


Although cocaine is one of the leading causes of drug-related deaths, there is little clinical information describing the precise sequence of events leading to death in the cocaine intoxication. Usually, cocaine-related sudden deaths are unwitnessed, its electrocardiographic features are not attainable, and the majority of these patients have a rapidly fatal course and die before arriving at the hospital. We report a patient with massive cocaine ingestion who developed psychomotor agitation and generalized seizures followed by asystolic cardiac arrest. Ventilation with supplemental oxygen by endotracheal intubation immediately restored spontaneous heart beat. After resuscitation, a severe metabolic acidosis (pH 6.65) and cardiac dysrrhythmias consistent with sodium channel poisoning were detected. The electrocardiogram showed accelerated junctional rhythm at 85 beats/min with right bundle branch block and left anterior hemiblock configuration, prolongation of QRS (0.16 sec) and QTc (0.52 sec) intervals, and terminal J wave associated with coved ST-segment elevation in leads V(1) and V(2) resembling the Brugada syndrome. Sodium bicarbonate administration was quickly followed by normalization of the cardiac conduction disturbances. This article discusses the clinical and electrophysiologic implications of these findings.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / drug therapy
  • Adult
  • Cocaine / toxicity*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / toxicity*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Arrest / chemically induced*
  • Heart Arrest / drug therapy
  • Heart Conduction System / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sodium Bicarbonate / therapeutic use
  • Syndrome


  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Cocaine