Slow conduction through an arc of block: A basis for arrhythmia formation postmyocardial infarction

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Abstract

Introduction:

The electrophysiologic basis for characteristic rate-dependent, constant-late-coupled (390 + 54 milliseconds) premature ventricular beats (PVBs) present 4–5 days following coronary artery occlusion were examined in 108 anesthetized dogs.

Methods and results:

Fractionated/double potentials were observed in injured zone bipolar and composite electrograms at prolonged sinus cycle lengths (1,296 ± 396 milliseconds). At shorter cycle lengths, conduction of the delayed potential decremented, separating from the initial electrogram by a progressively prolonged isoelectric interval. With sufficient delay of the second potential following an isoelectric interval, a PVB was initiated. Both metastable and stable constant-coupled PVBs were associated with Wenckebach-like patterns of delayed activation following an isoelectric interval. Signal-averaging from the infarct border confirmed the presence of an isoelectric interval preceding the PVBs (N = 15). Pacing from the site of double potential formation accurately reproduced the surface ECG morphology (N = 15) of spontaneous PVBs. Closely-spaced epicardial mapping demonstrated delayed activation across an isoelectric interval representing “an arc of conduction block.” Rate-dependent very slow antegrade conduction through a zone of apparent conduction block (N = 8) produced decremental activation delays until the delay was sufficient to excite epicardium distal to the original “arc of conduction block,” resulting in PVB formation.

Conclusion:

The present experiments demonstrate double potential formation and rate-dependent constant-coupled late PVB formation in infarcted dog hearts. Electrode recordings demonstrate a prolonged isoelectric period preceding PVB formation consistent with very slow conduction (<70 mm/s) across a line of apparent conduction block and may represent a new mechanism of PVB formation following myocardial infarction.

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