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Heart. 1998 May; 79(5): 474–480.
PMCID: PMC1728703

Enhanced dispersion of epicardial activation-recovery intervals at sites of histological inhomogeneity during regional cardiac ischaemia and reperfusion

Abstract

Objective—To examine how epicardial activation and repolarisation patterns change in the course of ischaemia, and how these changes are related to the underlying histological structures.
Methods—Langendorff perfused isolated rabbit hearts were submitted to 30 minutes of left anterior descending coronary artery occlusion followed by 30 minutes of reperfusion. A 256 channel epicardial map was plotted during the various experimental phases. Activation time points were determined as t(dU/dtmin) and repolarisation time points as t(dU/dtmax). From these data the local activation-recovery interval (ARI), its dispersion (SD of ARI), and the geometry of the activation spread could be analysed. After the experiments the hearts were processed histologically and the mapping data were projected onto histological slides.
Results—There was elevation of the ST segment within the occluded area, which recovered during reperfusion. Within this area, ARI was significantly shortened and its dispersion was maximally enhanced. The enhancement of dispersion was pronounced at sites of histological inhomogeneity like fat, connective tissue, or vessels. There was also a change in the preferential direction of activation spread within the occluded zone with a marked transverse propagation of the activation wavefront, whereas under normal conditions the activation followed the longitudinal fibre axis. In addition, the total activation time in the occluded area was significantly prolonged.
Conclusions—Ischaemia alters the local activation pattern with enhanced dispersion, especially at sites of histological irregularity, transverse shift of the activation waves, and a general slowing of conduction, which may explain the increased susceptibility to arrhythmia in hearts with enhanced histological irregularities—for example, an infarct or in multi-infarcted hearts, or after myocarditis.

Keywords: dispersion;  epicardial activation-recovery interval;  ischaemia


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