Clinical Features

Cardiac arrest is the primary cause of death caused by electrocution. The specific fatal arrhythmia varies according to the type (either AC or DC) and intensity (as predicted by the voltage) of the electrical current (Table 1.9.6-7). Low-voltage AC generally produces ventricular fibrillation. High-voltage AC that causes greater current intensity is more likely to produce asystole. DC is also more likely to cause asystole. The most common arrhythmia encountered in victims who sustain cardiac arrest from electrical injury is ventricular fibrillation. Electricity may also produce cardiac rhythm disturbances, although this is unlikely if the voltage is 120 or less and if water contact is not involved.9 Arrhythmias are seen in 20 to 30 percent of high-voltage injuries. The most common disturbances are sinus tachycardia, but premature atrial contractions, premature ventricular contractions, supraventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, and first- or second-degree atrioventricular block can be seen.

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