Neurally induced cardiac damage. Definition of the problem

Neurol Clin. 1993 May;11(2):273-92.


Sudden unexpected death is a problem of major importance, but very little is known about its cause. Electrocardiographic abnormalities have been known to occur in the context of neurologic disease for a long time. This article discusses the neuroanatomy of the heart and lungs and neurogenic lung and heart disease. The four classes of causes of these abnormalities are catecholamine infusion, stress plus or minus steroids, nervous system stimulation, and reperfusion. These classes are tied together by a common thread, the essential feature of which is sympathetic overactivity with secondary catecholamine toxicity. A unifying hypothesis is proposed to explain all of the forms of sudden death based on the anatomic connection between the nervous system and the heart and lungs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Catecholamines / analysis
  • Catecholamines / blood
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Female
  • Heart / anatomy & histology*
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Lung / anatomy & histology*
  • Lung / physiology
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Pulmonary Edema / complications
  • Pulmonary Edema / physiopathology*


  • Catecholamines