The syndrome of right bundle branch block (RBBB), ST-segment elevation and sudden death was first described in 1988 in Italy by Italian doctors from Padua in the Giornale Italiano di Cardiologia1 in Mises à Jour Cardiologiques and in the American Heart Journal. This syndrome is now known worldwide as the “Brugada syndrome”, reflecting the name of those who described later the same entity in 1992. At present, up to 1000 papers on this syndrome are reported in the Internet site http://www.brugada.crtia.be . In more than 20% of cases some form of organic heart disease has been recognized, mainly of the right ventricle, while in the vast majority of patients a structural abnormality has not been identified. This may be because the investigation was incomplete. This has led to two different theories on the pathophysiology of the syndrome: one relates the precordial ECG to a depolarization abnormality or to an organic heart disease whereas the second ascribed the syndrome to a functional abnormality of repolarization.
A similar ECG pattern, this time associated with an aborted sudden death and occurring in a 42-year-old male while talking with a post officer on the 2nd of October 1984, was seen in Padua, Italy. In the following years incomplete details were given on similar patients. A new “syndrome” characterized by a clinical event (sudden or aborted sudden death) associated with the abnormal ECG findings, was first presented at the National Congress of Italian Cardiologists, held in Florence, by Nava, Martini, Thiene and colleagues, working in Padua with Professor Sergio Dalla Volta in 1988. Shortly after, Nava et al. published the first ECG characteristic of the syndrome in 1988, which is considered worldwide as the typical ECG of the syndrome, and which is now called the “Brugada sign”.
One year later, a full description of the syndrome was published in the American Heart Journal. It is noteworthy that in our paper we re-published not only “the typical” 9, but most of the ECG variations of the syndrome, namely dynamic or isolated Stsegment abnormalities, incomplete or com-plete RBBB, sometimes associated with an atrioventricular and fascicular conduction impairment, and a prolonged HV interval. A prolonged PR interval, left axis deviation, some incomplete RBBB and minor ST-segment elevation were present in patient 4 of our paper.
The same patient was re-published by Corrado et al., and that ECG is an excellent example of the dynamic pattern sometimes seen in this syndrome. Despite the typical functional ECG pattern, this patient had anatomical evidence of a right ventricular cardiomyopathy. A complete RBBB morphology was present in patient 1, with only a slight ST-segment elevation in V1 and V2. Isolated slight ST/T anomalies/elevation as seen in patients 2 and 5 of our paper4, may very well have been a potential marker of the syndrome. Drug testing was not performed at that time. The presence of late potentials, corresponding to ST-segment elevation, was proven both by intracavitary recordings and by signal-averaged ECG. The second description of the syndrome was presented by Aihara et al. in patients without apparent heart disease, and the third by the Brugada brothers, FIVE years after the initial Italian description.