The circle of reentry: Characteristics of trigger-substrate interaction leading to sudden cardiac arrest

Matthijs J M Cluitmans*, Jason Bayer, Laura R Bear, Rachel M A Ter Bekke, Jordi Heijman, Ruben Coronel, Paul G A Volders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sudden cardiac death is often caused by ventricular arrhythmias driven by reentry. Comprehensive characterization of the potential triggers and substrate in survivors of sudden cardiac arrest has provided insights into the trigger-substrate interaction leading to reentry. Previously, a "Triangle of Arrhythmogenesis", reflecting interactions between substrate, trigger and modulating factors, has been proposed to reason about arrhythmia initiation. Here, we expand upon this concept by separating the trigger and substrate characteristics in their spatial and temporal components. This yields four key elements that are required for the initiation of reentry: local dispersion of excitability (e.g., the presence of steep repolarization time gradients), a critical relative size of the region of excitability and the region of inexcitability (e.g., a sufficiently large region with early repolarization), a trigger that originates at a time when some tissue is excitable and other tissue is inexcitable (e.g., an early premature complex), and which occurs from an excitable region (e.g., from a region with early repolarization). We discuss how these findings yield a new mechanistic framework for reasoning about reentry initiation, the "Circle of Reentry." In a patient case of unexplained ventricular fibrillation, we then illustrate how a comprehensive clinical investigation of these trigger-substrate characteristics may help to understand the associated arrhythmia mechanism. We will also discuss how this reentry initiation concept may help to identify patients at risk, and how similar reasoning may apply to other reentrant arrhythmias.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1121517
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'The circle of reentry: Characteristics of trigger-substrate interaction leading to sudden cardiac arrest'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this