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Effects of stretch on heart rhythm have been known for over a century. They possess considerable clinical importance and range from the increase in heart rate during enhanced venous return to the right atrium (Bainbridge effect) to sudden cardiac death caused by pre-cordial chest thumps (Commotio cordis). The underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms have only recently started to become evident and include stretch-activation of ion channels and mechanical modulation of intracellular calcium handling.


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