CHRISMED Journal of Health and Research

: 2015  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 265--267

Atrial fibrillation following low voltage electrical injury

Amlan Kanti Biswas1, Avinandan Banerjee2, Anirban Ghosh3, Sanchaita Bala4, Rimi Som Sengupta3,  
1 Department of Medicine, Medical College, IPGMER and SSKM Hospitals, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Nephrology, IPGMER and SSKM Hospitals, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
3 Department of Medicine, ESI-PGIMSR and ESIC Medical College, Joka, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
4 Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, IPGMER and SSKM Hospitals, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Amlan Kanti Biswas
C/o, Hirendra Nath Kundu, 37 Number North Sreerampur, Garia, Kolkata - 700 084, West Bengal


This is a case report of occurrence of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) in a previously healthy 50-year-old man after suffering from a nonfatal electrical injury. The patient developed palpitation and sustained nonfatal electrical burn in his right hand after coming in contact with 440 voltage alternating current. His electrocardiogram done at the emergency revealed AF. However he was hemodynamically stable and hence put under conservative therapy. He reverted back to sinus rhythm within 24 h of admission and continued to remain so. Although ventricular arrhythmia is common after electrical injury, AF has been rarely reported in literature.

How to cite this article:
Biswas AK, Banerjee A, Ghosh A, Bala S, Sengupta RS. Atrial fibrillation following low voltage electrical injury.CHRISMED J Health Res 2015;2:265-267

How to cite this URL:
Biswas AK, Banerjee A, Ghosh A, Bala S, Sengupta RS. Atrial fibrillation following low voltage electrical injury. CHRISMED J Health Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Sep 20 ];2:265-267
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Full Text


Electrical injury may produce a variety of bodily manifestations ranging from simple skin breach to severe burn. Not only skin, soft tissues and muscles, the heart can bear the brunt in various ways. Injury to the heart can occur in the form of arrhythmias ranging from supraventricular or ventricular ectopics to various forms of atrioventricular (AV) blocks as well as ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation resulting in sudden cardiac death. [1] Few authors even reported myocardial ischemic changes as well as myocardial infarction. [2] However atrial fibrillation (AF) is a rare occurrence following such catastrophe and even rarer after a low voltage alternating current injury. Here we report a case of AF initiated after a low voltage alternating current injury.

 Case Report

The patient is a 50-year-old male factory worker. While operating an electric driven machine he received an electric shock from alternating current of 440 V. He was previously healthy and had no cardiac problem. He was a nonsmoker and neither had any kind of addiction. He was not on any medications, nor did he have any significant medical history.

He presented at the emergency with complaint of palpitation and had grade 1 burn injury in the right hand [Figure 1]. He was conscious and hemodynamically stable. His blood pressure was 130/80 mmHg in left hand supine and pulse rate was more than 120 beats/min irregularly irregular in nature. Other vitals were normal. His systemic examination including cardiovascular and neurologic did not contribute anything new except for a variable first heart sound.{Figure 1}

Electrocardiogram (ECG) revealed that patient was having AF [Figure 2]. Routine hemogram was normal and other reports were as follows: Serum Urea - 20 mg/dl, serum creatinine - 1.0 mg/dl, serum Na + - 139 mmol/l, serum K + - 3.9 mmol/l. His creatine phosphokinase (CPK) and CPK myocardial band levels were 830 IU/l and 15 IU/l respectively. Qualitative troponin-T assay was negative.{Figure 2}

The patient was admitted to the ward and was treated conservatively. Proper care of the burn wound was taken by our surgery team. As the patient was young without any known organic heart disease, no history of hypertension, diabetes and was heamodynamically stable at the time of presentation, rate control was preferred over rythm control and the patient was given sustained release metoprolol in a dose of 50 mg orally once daily. Considering the thromboembolic risk the patient was assessed according to the "CHADS 2 visual analog scale (VAS)" score which was "0" to our patient and that is why the patient was not given any anticoagulation or antiplatelet.

The patient recovered from palpitation the very next day. On examination the pulse rate was 66 beats/min and was found to be regular. Repeat ECG showed that he had reverted back to sinus rhythm [Figure 3]. Other investigations including patient's transthoracic echocardiography and thyroid profile were normal. Metoprolol was stopped after 72 h as the patient remained in sinus rhythm. The patient was discharged after another 72 h with only medications for burn injury. He was reviewed once again after 7 days with fresh ECG and he continued to remain in sinus rhythm.{Figure 3}


In our patient AF developed soon after electrocution and returned to sinus rhythm within 24 h. He was electrocuted by 440 V alternating current.

Electrical injury has been found to cause arrhythmia, myocardial ischaemia, left ventricular dysfunction, transient hypertension and even myocardial infarction and cardiac rupture. [1],[2],[3] Arrhythmias commonly found are premature ventricular ectopics, ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, bundle branch blocks and AV blocks. [3],[4] Studies have shown that incidence of arrhythmia following electrical injury ranges from 10% to 36%. But incidence of AF following electric injury is very rare. In a study involving 182 cases of electric injury over a period of 20 years, only two cases of AF were reported and one of them required cardioversion. [2],[5]

The mechanism of occurrence of arrhythmia following electrocution is not clear. It is possible that because of difference in electrical resistance, current preferentially travel along blood vessels and nerve and makes them more vulnerable to injury. For this same reason cardiac myocytes are also similarly susceptible. Myocardial necrosis occurs following electrical injury, resulting in subsequent fibrosis, which is presumed to be the cause of the arrhythmogenic foci. [5] Altered Na + /K + pump activity along with increase in intracardiac potassium concentration have also been observed. [6] Arrhythmias may occur immediately or a few days following electrical injury. Though most commonly they are found on the 1 st day of the injury but the delayed ones are more fatal. [6],[7] Increased cardiac Na + /K + pump activity and increased concentration of serum potassium following electrical injury may be other causes of arrhythmia.

Most of the reported cases of AF occurred after electrical injury from a high voltage current source predominantly more than 10,000 V but in our case it occurred after a low voltage electric current of about 440 V. [8]

For management of AF the three main goals are considered-Rate control, rhythm control and anticoagulation to prevent thromboembolism. The 2006 AHA/ACC/ESC guideline recommended that there is no mortality advantage to a management strategy aimed at maintaining sinus rhythm. [9] Rhythm control is reserved for patient who remain symptomatic despite efforts to optimise ventricular response to AF and therefore approach to AF has evolved to focus largely on rate control and anticoagulation. [9],[10],[11],[12] So our patient was put on metoprolol and with that he responded well. Regarding anticoagulation CHADS 2 VAS score was used. As the patient was 50-year-old male without any history of diabetes, hypertension, no prior stroke, no peripheral vascular disease or coronary artery disease his score was found to be "0" and was not put on any anticoagulation or antiplatelet.


We want to report this case to show that AF can occur even from a low voltage electrical injury.


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