Differential effects of changes in local myocardial refractoriness on atrial and ventricular latency

Lameh Fananapazir, Douglas Packer, Eric N. Prystowsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Assessment of myocardial refractoriness and conduction properties, critical to development and propagation of reentrant arrhythmias, is an integral part of the investigation of atrial and ventricular tachycardias through the use of programmed electrical stimulation. Local conduction itself, however, may be affected by myocardial refractoriness. Methods and Results: We studied the effects of changes in myocardial refractoriness on local conduction in right atrial and ventricular myocardium in 19 patients. Changes in effective, functional, and relative refractoriness were accomplished with the use of four pacing protocols, including drive train pacing cycle lengths (PCLs) of 600 and 400 milliseconds (ms) and drive train durations (DTDs) of 8 and 50 stimuli. Unipolar cathodal stimulation was performed from the distal electrode, and unipolar electrograms were recorded from the proximal three poles of quadripolar catheters with 5-mm interelectrode spaces. Atrial and ventricular effective and relative refractory periods (ERPs and RRPs) were significantly shortened by both the reduction in PCL and the increase in DTD. The reduction in the PCL shortened and ventricular refractory periods significantly more than did the increase in the DTD. Changes in ventricular refractory periods were significantly greater compared with atrial refractory periods. The ratio of RRP to ERP was reduced in the atrium but significantly increased in the ventricle with reduction in PCL and increase in DTD. For all premature intervals, the conduction interval from stimulus to the first recording electrode pole was significantly greater than conduction intervals measured between subsequent electrode poles. The greatest increase in conduction interval with closely coupled premature complexes occurred between the stimulus artifact and the first recording electrode pole. Reduction in ventricular but not atrial ERP was associated with significantly increased local conduction interval. Conclusions: First, most of the conduction delay after the stimulus artifact occurs within 5 mm from the pacing site. Second, closely coupled premature complexes delay conduction primarily by prolonging latency in the first 5 mm from the pacing site. Third, fundamental differences occur between the atrium and ventricle regarding changes in local conduction as a function of changes in ERP, suggesting that factors involved in sudden changes in refractoriness (eg, heart rate acceleration) could produce divergent effects on atrial and ventricular arrhythmogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1364-1371
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


  • atrium
  • conduction
  • electrophysiology
  • myocardium
  • ventricles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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