Effects of non-right-handedness on risk for sudden death associated with coronary artery disease

Richard D. Lane, Anthony C. Caruso, Victoria L. Brown, Beatrice Axelrod, Gary E. Schwartz, Lee Sechrest, Frank I. Marcus

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9 Scopus citations


The hypothesis that non-right-handedness is associated with sudden cardiac death was tested based on evidence that sympathetic imbalance may contribute to ventricular arrhythmogenesis and evidence that left-handers may have a shorter lifespan than right-handers. The study included 26 patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), a history of ventricular tachycardia-ventricular fibrillation (VT-VF), and implanted defibrillators, and 26 patients with CAD and no history of serious arrhythmias who were matched for age, sex, and New York Heart Association functional class. Patients with any history of neurologic disorders were excluded. Left-handers either wrote with the left hand or were converted from left- to right-handedness in childhood. Nonright-handers used the left hand for writing, drawing, or throwing. Handedness rates in patients with VT-VF and case-control subjects were compared with published norms in the general population to take expected rates into account. The rates of left-handedness (6 of 26 or 23.1%) and non-right-handedness (9 of 26 or 34.6%) in patients with VT-VF were significantly higher (p < 0.003 and p < 0.0001, 2-tailed, respectively) than those of similarly aged adults in the general population (left-handedness, 5%; nonright-handedness, 10.2%). The rates of left-handedness (2 of 26 or 7.7%) and non-right-handedness (4 of 26 or 15.4%) observed in the case-control group correspond closely to the expected values for that group (left-handedness, 1.3 of 26 or 5%; non-right-handedness, 2.65 of 26 or 10.2%) derived from the general population rates and were not significantly different from them. If these findings are confirmed in a prospective study, non-right-handedness should be considered a risk factor for sudden death in the context of CAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-747
Number of pages5
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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