Brugada syndrome (BrS) is a rare heart condition that can make your heart’s lower chambers (ventricles) beat in an abnormal way. This can make you faint or have a cardiac arrest. Treatments include medicine or a medical device that delivers a shock when you need it. Some people get this condition from a parent, but many others don’t know the cause.
Brugada syndrome is a rare condition that causes an abnormal heart rhythm in your heart's lower chambers (ventricles). This irregular heartbeat can cause fainting (syncope) and lead to sudden cardiac death (SCD). This often happens while you’re at rest or asleep.
Cardiologists identified Brugada syndrome in 1992. Researchers continue to study the condition and test new treatments.
Potentially. It can cause a dangerous heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation, which prevents your heart from pumping blood to your brain. This is why people with Brugada syndrome are at risk of fainting and sudden cardiac death. Out of all the SCDs that happen, researchers blame Brugada syndrome for 4% of them.
Brugada syndrome is more common in people assigned male at birth. Men are eight to 10 times more likely than women to have the condition. Anyone with a family history of SCD or Brugada syndrome should find out if they have the disease. Symptoms often start when you’re in your 30s or 40s.
The condition appears to be more common in Japan and Southeast Asia.
Yes, Brugada syndrome is rare. An estimated 5 people out of 10,000 have the condition.
Brugada syndrome symptoms can happen at any age and may include:
The symptoms of Brugada syndrome are similar to many other conditions. It’s important to see a healthcare provider to find out what’s causing your symptoms.
More than 70% of people with Brugada syndrome don’t have any symptoms. Sometimes providers find the condition during an electrocardiogram (EKG). An EKG is a recording of the heart’s electrical activity. People with Brugada syndrome often have a recognizable pattern (Brugada pattern) on the EKG printout.
A fever can make Brugada symptoms start. This is why people with Brugada syndrome need to treat a fever right away — even if they have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). You can take over-the-counter medicines to bring your fever down.
Other symptom triggers include:
About 70% of people with Brugada syndrome don’t have a known genetic mutation. However, others have a genetic mutation in one of 18 or more genes. These mutations interfere with heartbeat signal conduction in your heart.
People without a genetic mutation may get Brugada syndrome from an unknown cause or from medicines they take for certain mental health conditions or heart issues.
It only takes one copy of an affected gene from one parent to inherit Brugada syndrome. Any child of someone with a Brugada-related gene mutation has a 50% chance of having it too.
Brugada syndrome is a medical condition that one generation can pass to the next. It’s important to schedule a screening for this condition if you have a first-degree relative with Brugada syndrome. First-degree relatives are your parents, siblings and children.
The first step is to tell your provider that you have a family history of Brugada syndrome. They may want to do diagnostic tests to check your heart. If these tests are positive, you should see a cardiologist who’s familiar with this condition.
To make a Brugada syndrome diagnosis, a healthcare provider will:
Tests for diagnosing Brugada syndrome include:
Based on your EKG results, you may also have:
Since there isn’t a cure, the goal of Brugada syndrome treatment is to keep you from having ventricular arrhythmias and treat them when they happen.
Your treatment may include:
If you’re not having symptoms, your provider may decide you need an ICD because of your family history or test results. Some providers may do frequent follow-ups and only treat you when you have symptoms. However, others don’t agree with this approach because your first symptom could be sudden cardiac death.
ICDs aren’t perfect devices. They can:
You can do many activities a few days after receiving an ICD, but you’ll likely wait a week to drive. You can exercise a little every day, but not to the point of tiring yourself out. Don’t do any heavy lifting or strenuous activities until your provider tells you it’s OK.
If you inherited Brugada syndrome from a parent, you can’t change that. However, if you know you have Brugada syndrome or it’s in your family, you and your relatives can get a genetic test to check for it. Also, people considering pregnancy can see a genetic counselor to find out if they’re at risk of passing it on to their children.
There’s no cure for Brugada syndrome, but treatments are available to lower your risk for SCD. Also, researchers are testing ablation to see if that can help people with this condition. People with Brugada syndrome can prevent symptoms by avoiding certain medications or substances.
People with Brugada syndrome who have symptoms but aren't receiving treatment have a high risk of SCD. People without symptoms and with a normal EKG have a much lower risk of SCD.
If a provider diagnosed you with Brugada syndrome, an experienced healthcare team should evaluate and treat you. This approach helps ensure that you get the best possible care. The team should include the following:
Avoid the things that trigger Brugada syndrome symptoms and be sure to tell your provider about anything unusual.
You should have an appointment with your provider at least once a year. If you have an ICD, your provider should check your device at least twice a year.
You need immediate medical care if you’re in cardiac arrest. Since you won’t be able to call for help yourself if this happens, someone near you will need to help. If you’re at risk of cardiac arrest, ask your family to get CPR training and call 911 or a local emergency number. You can also let co-workers know about your risk in case you need their help.
Ask your provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It’s natural to have questions after learning that you have a condition that may cause a cardiac arrest. Talk with your provider about anything that isn’t clear. They can determine which treatment is best for you. It may give you peace of mind to have an automatic external defibrillator (AED) in your home and/or your child’s school. Also, people who live or work with you should know how to do CPR.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/11/2022.
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