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Moderate pre-cordial mechanical impact can cause sudden cardiac death, even in the absence of morphological damage to the heart. This is the most severe expression of a condition termed, in the 19th century, Commotio cordis. Experimental studies performed in the early 1930s showed that sudden cardiac death after chest impact is brought about by an intrinsic cardiac response to the mechanical stimulus. The precise (sub-)cellular mechanisms of this response are still poorly understood. This article summarises experimental findings on the condition and relates them to the more recently established concept of cardiac mechano-electric feedback. As a result, an explanation of the mechanisms that give rise to sudden cardiac death by Commotio cordis and targets for further research are suggested.

Original publication




Journal article


Cardiovasc Res

Publication Date





280 - 289


Biomechanical Phenomena, Death, Sudden, Cardiac, Electrophysiology, Feedback, Humans, Thoracic Injuries, Wounds, Nonpenetrating