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Brain mechanisms in fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

Authors
  • Houk, P G
  • Smith, V
  • Wolf, S G
Type
Published Article
Journal
Integrative physiological and behavioral science : the official journal of the Pavlovian Society
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1999
Volume
34
Issue
1
Pages
3–9
Identifiers
PMID: 10381160
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Intravenous injection of histamine to rabbits was used as a prototype in an investigation of the mechanism of sudden death due to anaphylaxis and other causes. The "dive" reflex, bradycardia due to activation of the ophthalmic branch of the fifth cranial nerve, was induced in thirty-seven of the animals while they inhaled a very small amount of cigarette smoke. Associated with the resulting bradycardia were lowered blood pH and increased serum content of lactic acid and potassium and increased peripheral arterial constriction with elevation of diastolic blood pressure. Intravenous injection of 1 ml of histamine in the presence of the dive reflex induced potentially fatal ventricular arrhythmia, but no cardiac disturbance when administered while the dive reflex was inactive, thereby strongly suggesting that sudden death in anaphylaxis may involve an overzealous response to a normally protective neural reflex.

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