The diagnostic programmes of modern pacemakers have increased our knowledge of atrial tachyarrhythmias (ATAs) in chronically paced patients. These programmes also support the evaluation of the effects of pharmacological treatment of ATAs. The success of interruption and/or prevention of ATAs with pacemakers depends strongly on the diagnostic accuracy and the properties of the pacing algorithms, their individual programming and the site and configuration of the pacing leads. Atrial septum pacing can be beneficial in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and prolonged P wave duration. Recent large-scale studies on preventive and interruptive atrial pacing of ATAs show modestly positive or no results. Therefore, atrial pacing therapy for ATAs should be considered cautiously, serving as an adjuvant to pharmacological treatment rather than as a primary intervention. This also applies for pacing interventions for ATAs in cardiac resynchronisation therapy. The pacemaker algorithms for the detection of ATAs and atrial lead configuration are crucial for the success of pacemaker-mediated prevention or interruption of ATAs. The success of these interventions is dependant on future improvements of pacemaker technology. (Neth Heart J 2008;16(Suppl1):S20-S24.)
atrial fibrillation; atrial tachycardia; atrial pacing; pace intervention; pace prevention
Pacing prevention algorithms have been introduced in order to maximize the benefits of atrial pacing in atrial fibrillation prevention. It has been demonstrated that algorithms actually keep overdrive atrial pacing, reduce atrial premature contractions, and prevent short-long atrial cycle phenomenon, with good patient tolerance. However, clinical studies showed inconsistent benefits on clinical endpoints such as atrial fibrillation burden. Factors which may be responsible for neutral results include an already high atrial pacing percentage in conventional DDDR, non-optimal atrial pacing site and deleterious effects of high percentages of apical ventricular pacing. Atrial antitachycardia pacing (ATP) therapies are effective in treating spontaneous atrial tachyarrhythmias, mainly when delivered early after arrhythmia onset and/or on slower tachycardias. Effective ATP therapies may reduce atrial fibrillation burden, but conflicting evidence does exist as regards this issue, probably because current clinical studies may be underpowered to detect such an efficacy. Wide application of atrial ATP may reduce the need for hospitalizations and electrical cardioversions and favorably impact on quality of life. Consistent monitoring of atrial and ventricular rhythm as well as that of ATP effectiveness may be extremely useful for optimizing device programming and pharmacological therapy.
Antitachycardia; Atrial fibrillation; Pacing; Prevention algorithms
OBJECTIVE—To evaluate the incremental antifibrillatory effect of multisite atrial pacing compared with right atrial pacing in patients with drug refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation paced for arrhythmia prevention alone.
METHODS—In 20 of these patients (mean (SD) age 64 (8) years; 14 female, six male), a single blinded randomised crossover study was performed to investigate the incremental benefit of one month of multisite atrial pacing compared with one month of right atrial pacing. Outcomes included the number of episodes of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, their total duration obtained from pacemaker Holter memory, and quality of life using a cardiac specific questionnaire (the modified Karolinska questionnaire).
RESULTS—Comparing right atrial with multisite atrial pacing, there was no significant change in either the number of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation episodes (mean (SD): right atrial pacing 77 (98) episodes v multisite pacing 52 (78) episodes, NS) or their total duration (right atrial, 4.8 (5.4) days v multisite, 6.3 (9.8) days, NS). Quality of life scores compared with baseline status were equally improved by either pacing strategy (mean percentage improvement: right atrial, 38%, p = 0.003; multisite, 44%, p = 0.003). There was no significant difference in life scores comparing the two pacing modes.
CONCLUSIONS—Multisite atrial pacing has no incremental antiarrhythmic effect compared with right atrial pacing in patients paced for drug refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Quality of life is equally improved with either pacing strategy, with no differences between them.
Keywords: multisite atrial pacing; atrial fibrillation; pacing
Objective—To assess the natural history of the atrial rhythm of patients with paroxysmal atrial arrhythmias undergoing atrioventricular node ablation and permanent pacemaker implantation.
Design and setting—A retrospective cohort study of consecutive patients identified from the pacemaker database and electrophysiology records of a tertiary referral hospital.
Patients—62 consecutive patients with paroxysmal atrial arrhythmias undergoing atrioventricular node ablation and permanent pacemaker implantation between 1988 and July 1996.
Main outcome measures—(1) Atrial rhythm on final follow up ECG, classified as either ordered (sinus rhythm or atrial pacing) or disordered (atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter or atrial tachycardia). (2) Chronic atrial fibrillation, defined as a disordered rhythm on two consecutive ECGs (or throughout a 24 hour Holter recording) with no ordered rhythm subsequently documented.
Results—Survival analysis showed that 75% of patients progressed to chronic atrial fibrillation by 2584 days (86 months). On multiple logistic regression analysis a history of electrical cardioversion, increasing patient age, and VVI pacing were associated with the development of chronic atrial fibrillation. A history of electrical cardioversion and increasing patient age were associated with a disordered atrial rhythm on the final follow up ECG.
Conclusions—Patients with paroxysmal atrial arrhythmias are at high risk of developing chronic atrial fibrillation. A history of direct current cardioversion, increasing patient age at the time of ablation, and VVI pacing are predictive of the development of chronic atrial fibrillation in this patient group.
Keywords: atrioventricular node ablation; pacemaker mode; cardioversion; atrial fibrillation
Myotonic dystrophy is a genetic muscular disease that is frequently associated with cardiac arrhythmias. Bradyarrhythmias, such as sinus bradycardia and atrioventricular block, are more common than tachyarrhythmias. Rarely, previously undiagnosed patients with myotonic dystrophy initially present with a tachyarrhythmia. We describe the case of a 14-year-old boy, who was admitted to the hospital with clinical signs and symptoms of decompensated heart failure and severely reduced left ventricular function. Electrocardiography showed common-type atrial flutter with 2 : 1 conduction resulting in a heart rate of 160 bpm. Initiation of medical therapy for heart failure as well as electrical cardioversion led to a marked clinical improvement. Catheter ablation of atrial flutter was performed to prevent future cardiac decompensations and to prevent development of tachymyopathy. Left ventricular function normalized during followup. Genetic analysis confirmed the clinical suspicion of myotonic dystrophy as known in other family members in this case.
Correct pacemaker (PM) diagnosis of paroxysmal atrial tachyarrhythmias is crucial for their prevention and intervention with specific atrial pacing programmes. The PM mode switch to only ventricular pacing after detection of atrial tachyarrhythmias is often used as the parameter to quantify the ‘burden’ of atrial tachyarrhythmias.
This review addresses potential errors in the detection and diagnosis of atrial tachyarrhythmias, sometimes resulting in incorrect mode switches. The interpretation of PM-stored data of patients with atrial tachyarrhythmias and the results of trials of pace prevention and intervention can be better appreciated with more insight into the technical options and pitfalls.
Literature and clinical experience demonstrate that the correctness of PM-derived diagnosis of atrial tachyarrhythmias depends on 1) the sensitivity setting to detect the onset and perpetuation of atrial tachyarrhythmias frequently characterised by variable and low-voltage signals, 2) the rejection of far-field R wave sensing by the atrial sense amplifier, 3) the facility for verification of mode switches by a high-quality intracardiac registration of the nonmodified atrial electrogram. The configuration of the atrial lead also contributes to the diagnostic performance of the PM.
Not only pacing algorithms and diverse technical PM features but also the atrial lead configuration are currently the limiting factors to the fully reliable, automated detection and diagnosis of atrial tachyarrhythmias. If these technical shortcomings can be improved, better signal processing will result. Then atrial pacing to prevent or suppress atrial tachyarrhythmias will be more justified. (Neth Heart J 2008;16:201-10.)
atrial fibrillation; pacing; mode switch; pacemaker leads; sensing; atrial overdrive; pace prevention; far-field R wave
To determine the importance of different atrioventricular intervals during exercise in patients with dual chamber pacemakers, seven patients with complete heart block and sinus rhythm were exercised in different pacing modes and atrioventricular intervals: (a) ventricular inhibited (VVI) pacing with no synchronous atrial augmentation or rate responsiveness; (b) atrial synchronous ventricular or DDD pacing with a short mean (SD) atrioventricular interval of 66 (4) ms; and (c) DDD pacing with a long atrioventricular interval of 168 (12) ms. Pacing with a short or long atrioventricular interval gave similar maximum heart rates, oxygen uptake at the anaerobic threshold, end tidal pressure of carbon dioxide or oxygen pulse (a measure of stroke volume). Pacing with either a short or long atrioventricular interval produced a significantly higher oxygen consumption and anaerobic threshold and less lactate production than VVI pacing. During exercise a short atrioventricular interval does not provide a better cardiopulmonary performance than a long atrioventricular interval.
Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common and rising disorder of cardiac rhythm, is quite difficult to control and/or to treat. Non pharmacological therapies for AF may involve the use of dedicated pacing algorithms to detect and prevent atrial arrhythmia that could be a trigger for AF onset. Selection 900E/AF2.0 Vitatron DDDRP pacemaker (1) keeps an atrial arrhythmia diary thus providing detailed onset reports of arrhythmias of interest, (2) provides us data about the number of premature atrial contractions (PACs) and (3) plots heart rate in the 5 minutes preceding the detection of an atrial arrhythmia. Moreover, this device applies four dedicated pacing therapies to reduce the incidence of atrial arrhythmia and AF events.
Aim of the Study
To analyze the reliability to record atrial arrhythmias and evaluate effectiveness of its AF preventive pacing therapies.
Material and Methods
We enrolled 15 patients (9 males and 6 females, mean age of 71±5 years, NYHA class I-II), with a DDDRP pacemaker implanted for a “bradycardia-tachycardia” syndrome, with advanced atrioventricular conduction disturbances. We compared the number and duration of AF episodes’ stored in the device with a contemporaneous 24h Holter monitoring. After that, we switched on the atrial arrhythmias detecting algorithms, starting from an atrial rate over 180 beats per minute for at least 6 ventricular cycles, and ending with at least 10 ventricular cycles in sinus rhythm. Thereafter, in order to evaluate the possible reduction in PACs number and in number and duration of AF episodes, we tailored all the four pacing preventive algorithms. Patients were followed for 24±8 months (from 20 to 32 months).
All 59 atrial arrhythmia episodes occurred in the first part of this trial, were correctly recorded by both systems, with a correlation coefficient (r) of 0.96. During the follow-up, we observed a significant reduction not only in PACs number (from 83±12/day to 2.3±0.8/day) but also in AF episodes (from 46±7/day to 0.12±0.03/day) and AF burden (from 93%±6% to 0.3%±0.06%). An increase in atrial pacing percentages (from 3%±0.5% to 97%±3%) was also contemporaneously observed.
In this pacemaker, detection of atrial arrhythmia episodes is highly reliable, thus making available an appropriate monitoring of heart rhythm, mainly suitable in AF asymptomatic patients. Moreover, the significant reduction of atrial arrhythmia episodes indicates that this might represent a suitable therapeutic option for an effective preventive therapy of AF in paced brady-tachy patients.
Sick Sinus Syndrome; Atrial Fibrillation; Atrial Pacing; Pacing Algorithms; Non-Pharmacological Therapy
The right atrial appendage (RAA) and right ventricular apex (RVA) have been widely considered as conventional sites for typical dual-chamber atrio-ventricular cardiac (DDD) pacing. Unfortunately conventional RAA pacing seems not to be able to prevent atrial fibrillation in DDD pacing for tachycardia-bradycardia syndrome, and the presence of a left bundle branch type of activation induced by RVA pacing can have negative effects. A new technology with active screw-in leads permits a more physiological atrial and right ventricular pacing. In this review, we highlight the positive effects of pacing of these new and easily selected sites. The septal atrial lead permits a shorter and more homogeneous atrial activation, allowing better prevention of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. The para-Hisian pacing can be achieved in a simpler and more reliable way with respect to biventricular pacing and direct Hisian pacing. We await larger trials to consider this “easy and physiological pacing” as a first approach in patients who need a high frequency of pacing.
Cardiac pacing; Atrial septum; Parahisian pacing
Right ventricular apical (RVA) pacing induces left ventricular (LV) dyssynchrony, increases the risk of persistent atrial fibrillation in the long term. The aim was to investigate the effects of RVA pacing on left atrial (LA) function, which are unknown.
Echocardiographic evaluation including LV dyssynchrony based on conventional Doppler, tissue Doppler imaging and speckle tracking strain echocardiography was done before and after (12 months) single-chamber ventricular pacemaker implantation in 40 patients with sick sinus syndrome. Patients were divided to 2 groups, according to the RVA pacing frequency (group I had higher pacing rate of more than 50% and group II, less than 50%).
There was no significant difference in LV ejection fraction, however, mean global LV strain, myocardial performance index, and parameters of LV dyssynchrony had shown significant changes after 12 months of RVA pacing. There were also significant increase in the LA volume index and the reduction of peak systolic LA strain and strain rate (SR), peak early and late diastolic SR after RVA pacing. Moreover, there was significant deterioration of LV dyssynchrony and both LA and LV longitudinal function in even group II. LA functional deterioration and LA volume was significantly correlated with the frequency of RVA pacing.
LV dyssynchrony, induced by RVA pacing, significantly impaired active LA contraction and passive stretching, and these findings were shown in the patients with even less than 50% of RVA pacing. Impairment of LA strain/SR was significantly correlated with the frequency of RVA pacing.
Atrial function; Pacemaker; Dyssynchrony
In selected patients with atrial fibrillation and severe symptoms, non-pharmacological treatment may be an alternative or supplement to drug therapy. Atrioventricular nodal radiofrequency ablation (requires pacemaker implantation), or atrial pacing for sick sinus syndrome, are established treatment modalities. All other non-pharmacological therapies for atrial fibrillation are still experimental. After the Maze operation, atrial depolarization has to follow one specific path determined by surgical scars in the myocardium. This prevents new episodes of atrial fibrillation, but at a cost of perioperative morbidity and mortality. Catheter-based "Maze-like" radiofrequency ablation is technically difficult, and thrombo-embolic complications may occur. Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation sometimes is initiated by spontaneous depolarizations in a pulmonary vein inlet. Radio frequency ablation against such focal activity has been reported with high therapeutic success, but the results await confirmation from several centres. For ventricular rate control, most electrophysiologists presently prefer ablation to induce a complete atrioventricular conduction block (with pacemaker) rather than trying to modify conduction by incomplete block. Atrial or dual chamber pacing may prevent atrial fibrillation induced by bradycardia. It remains to confirm that biatrial or multisite right atrial pacing prevents atrial fibrillation more efficiently than ordinary right atrial pacing. An atrial defibrillator is able to diagnose and convert atrial fibrillation. The equipment is expensive, and therapy without sedation may be unpleasant beyond tolerability.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether plasma atrial natriuretic factor (ANF) follows a pattern of circadian variation similar to that of other hormones in patients paced under VVI and DDD pacing modes and to determine if the known effect of pacing mode on ANF secretion is maintained throughout the 24 hour period. PATIENTS AND DESIGN: 20 patients were studied. They had complete atrioventricular block and had been paced for 17 (SD 3.5) months with a dual chamber multiprogrammable pacemaker. They were divided into two groups according to the duration of pacing in either VVI or DDD mode before the measurements: group A, n = 11 (8 men, 3 women, aged 65 (7) years), each paced for 24 h under each of VVI and DDD modes in random order; group B, n = 9 (7 men, 2 women, aged 63 (8) years), each paced for 60 d under each pacing mode before the measurements. Blood samples were taken and ANF concentrations measured every 4 h over a 24 h period, starting at 09.00. Measurements were also made of plasma cortisol, which has a known circadian pattern, so that the 24 h curve could be compared with that of ANF. RESULTS: In contrast to cortisol, ANF values indicated a pulsatile pattern of secretion throughout the 24 h period, with no clear circadian variation. In group B, ANF concentrations were significantly higher during VVI than during DDD pacing throughout the 24 h period, whereas in group A this difference was statistically significant only at certain times of day. CONCLUSIONS: ANF does not show the circadian pattern of variation shown by cortisol and other hormones. Dual chamber pacing contributes to an improvement not only in cardiac haemodynamics but also in the neuroendocrine system, especially in the long term.
A fundamental description of pacemaker systems which are commercially available or in clinical validation is given as a background for their application in a series of 62 consecutive patients presenting over a period of 1 year for permanent cardiac pacing. The patients (23 (37%) sick sinus syndrome, 38 (61%) atrioventricular block, and 1 ventricular tachycardia) were studied electrophysiologically and haemodynamically to allow the appropriate application of a pacemaker system. In sick sinus syndrome, 8 patients had permanent atrial pacing, 14 ventricular pacing, and 1 atrioventricular sequential pacing; in atrioventricular block, 8 patients had atrial synchronous ventricular inhibited pacing and the remaining 30 had ventricular pacing. A high incidence of atrial fibrillation, 9 patients, and abnormal sinus node function, 15 patients, precluded wider use of atrial synchrony. The results show benefit in acute haemodynamic studies of using systems including atrial sensing and/or pacing, and with greater availability of atrioventricular sequential and still more advanced pacemakers with dual sensing as well as dual pacing the majority of patients may be offered this benefit.
Objective—To determine the safety and cost effectiveness of single chamber atrial pacing in patients with sinus node disease.
Design—Retrospective follow up study.
Setting—Tertiary referral centre.
Patients—81 patients with single chamber atrial pacemakers implanted between 1992 and 1996.
Main outcome measures—The development of high grade atrioventricular block resulting in a further pacemaker procedure. The cost savings of changing our current pacing practice to conform with British Pacing and Electrophysiology Group guidelines.
Results—During the follow up period, four patients (5.8%) required a further procedure to upgrade their atrial pacemaker to a dual chamber system owing to the development of high grade atrioventricular block. In 1995 and 1996, 343 pacemakers were implanted in patients with sinus node disease; 19 (5.5%) received single chamber atrial pacemakers and 271 (79%) dual chamber pacemakers. If the current pacing practice was changed so that all patients received single chamber atrial pacemakers, with revision for symptomatic atrioventricular block, savings in excess of £206 000 would have been made in the two year period.
Conclusions—Atrial pacing in patients with sinus node disease is underused. The need for patients to undergo further procedures owing to the development of atrioventricular block is small and significant cost savings could be made by changing pacemaker practice.
Keywords: sinus node disease; atrial pacing; cost effectiveness
Objective: To assess long term mortality and identify factors associated with the development of permanent atrial fibrillation after atrioventricular (AV) node ablation for drug refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: UK tertiary centre teaching hospital.
Patients: Patients admitted to the University Hospital Birmingham between January 1995 and December 2000.
Interventions: AV node ablation and dual chamber mode switching pacing.
Main outcome measures: Long term mortality and predictors of permanent atrial fibrillation, assessed through Kaplan-Meier curves and logistic regression.
Results: 114 patients (1995–2000) were included: age (mean (SD)), 65 (9) years; 55 (48%) male; left atrial diameter 4 (1) cm; left ventricular end diastolic diameter 5 (1) cm; ejection fraction 54 (17)%. Indications for AV node ablation were paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in 95 (83%) and paroxysmal atrial fibrillation/flutter in 19 (17%). The survival curve showed a low overall mortality after 72 months (10.5%). Fifty two per cent of patients progressed to permanent atrial fibrillation within 72 months. There was no difference in progression to permanency between paroxysmal atrial fibrillation and paroxysmal atrial fibrillation/flutter (log rank 0.06, p = 0.8). Logistic regression did not show any association between the variables collected and the development of permanent atrial fibrillation, although age over 80 years showed a trend (p = 0.07).
Conclusions: Ablate and pace is associated with a low overall mortality. No predictors of permanent atrial fibrillation were identified, but 48% of patients were still in sinus rhythm at 72 months. These results support the use of dual chamber pacing for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation patients after ablate and pace.
atrial fibrillation; ablation; pacemaker; cardiac arrhythmia
Objective: To analyse the occurrence of atrial fibrillation (AF) and thromboembolism in a randomised comparison of rate adaptive single chamber atrial pacing (AAIR) and dual chamber pacing (DDDR) in patients with sick sinus syndrome and normal atrioventricular (AV) conduction, in which left atrial dilatation and decreased left ventricular fractional shortening had been observed in the DDDR group.
Methods: 177 consecutive patients with sick sinus syndrome (mean (SD) age 74 (9) years, 104 women) were randomly assigned to treatment with one of three pacemakers: AAIR (n = 54), DDDR with a short rate adaptive AV delay (n = 60) (DDDR-s); or DDDR with a fixed long AV delay (n = 63) (DDDR-l). Analysis was intention to treat.
Results: Mean follow up was 2.9 (1.1) years. AF at one or more ambulatory visits was significantly less common in the AAIR group (4 (7.4%) v 14 (23.3%) in the DDDR-s group v 11 (17.5%) in the DDDR-l group; p = 0.03, log rank test). The risk of developing AF in the AAIR group compared with the DDDR-s group was significantly decreased after adjustment for brady-tachy syndrome in a Cox regression analysis (relative risk 0.27, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.09 to 0.83, p = 0.02). The benefit of AAIR was highest among patients with brady-tachy syndrome. Brady-tachy syndrome and a thromboembolic event before pacemaker implantation were independent predictors of thromboembolism during follow up (relative risk 7.5, 95% CI 1.6 to 36.2, p = 0.01, and relative risk 4.7, 95% CI 1.2 to 17.9, p = 0.02, respectively).
Conclusions: During a mean follow up of 2.9 years AAIR was associated with significantly less AF. The beneficial effect of AAIR was still significant after adjustment for brady-tachy syndrome. Brady-tachy syndrome was associated with an increased risk of thromboembolism.
pacing; sinoatrial node; tachyarrhythmia; thromboembolism
We are reporting a case of 71-year old lady with a dual chamber demand pacemaker, who developed acute pulmonary edema due to an acute left ventricular (LV) dysfunction and worsening in mitral valve regurgitation after atrioventricular nodal ablation for uncontrolled atrial fibrillation. This was attributed to right ventricular apical pacing leading to LV dyssynchronization. Patient dramatically improved within 12-24 h after upgrading her single chamber pacemaker to biventricular pacing. Our case demonstrates that biventricular pacing can be an effective modality of treatment of acute congestive heart failure. In particular, it can be used when it is secondary to LV dysfunction and severe mitral regurgitation attributed to significant dyssynchrony created by right ventricular pacing in patients with atrioventricular nodal ablation for chronic atrial fibrillation.
Acute congestive heart failure; Cardiac resynchronization therapy pacemaker; Pacing; Cardiac biventricular pacing
It is uncertain whether patient perception of atrial fibrillation (AF) is based on the fast ventricular rate as such or the irregularity of the ventricular responses. This trial was designed to confirm the effectiveness of a ventricular rate stabilisation (VRS) algorithm in reducing ventricular irregularity during permanent pacing in patients with AF and to assess the patient preference and effect on quality of life (QoL).
In this multicentre single-blind randomised crossover trial, 184 patients with drug-refractory permanent (n=91) or paroxysmal (n=93) AF received a VVI(R) or DDD(R) pacemaker respectively and were paced in a randomised sequence with VRS on or off for two months. Clinical assessments (QoL, New York Heart Association (NYHA) classification, echocardiography, six-minute walk test and Holter recording) were carried out at baseline, at randomisation and after each crossover period. QoL assessment was performed using Aquarel, a new disease-specific QoL questionnaire for pacemaker patients, the Short Form 36 survey (SF-36), the Duke Activity Status Index (DASI) and the Symptom Checklist frequency and severity scores. At the end of the study patients preferences for VRS-on or VRS-off were recorded.
VRS pacing reduced ventricular irregularity without increasing the mean ventricular rate. VRS-on was preferred by 65.8% of patients with paroxysmal AF; patients with permanent AF had no preference. QoL did not show improvement during VRS pacing on any of the instruments.
VRS pacing is effective in reducing ventricular rhythm irregularity. QoL does not improve during VRS pacing but preference for VRS pacing appears particularly outspoken for patients with paroxysmal AF.
pacing; rate stabilisation; quality of life; Aquarel
The optimal pacing mode with either single chamber atrial pacemaker (AAI or AAIR) or dual chamber pacemaker (DDD or DDDR) is still not clear in sinus-node dysfunction (SND) and intact atrioventricular (AV) conduction.
Materials and Methods
Patients who were implanted with permanent pacemaker using AAI(R) (n = 73) or DDD(R) (n = 113) were compared.
The baseline characteristics were comparable between the two groups, with a mean follow-up duration of 69 months. The incidence of death did not show statistical difference. However, the incidence of hospitalization for congestive heart failure (CHF) was significantly lower in the AAI(R) group (0%) than the DDD(R) group (8.8%, p = 0.03). Also, atrial fibrillation (AF) was found in 2.8% in the AAI(R) group, which was statistically different from 15.2% of patients in the DDD(R) group (p = 0.01). Four patients (5.5%) with AAI(R) developed AV block, and subsequently switched to DDD(R) pacing. The risk of AF was lower in the patients implanted with AAI(R) than those with DDD(R) [hazard ratio (HR), 0.84; 95% confidence interval, 0.72 to 0.97, p = 0.02].
In patients with SND and intact AV conduction, AAI(R) pacing can achieve a better clinical outcome in terms of occurrence of CHF and AF than DDD(R) pacing. These findings support AAI(R) pacing as the preferred pacing mode in patients with SND and intact AV conduction.
Sinus node dysfunction; intact AV conduction
Objective: To determine how short and long term complication rates after pacemaker implantation are influenced by patient morbidity, operator experience, and choice of pacing system.
Design: Retrospective analysis of 1884 patients who received VVI (n = 610), VDD (n = 371), or DDD devices (n = 903) between 1990 and 2001. Follow up period was 64 (34) months. The influence of age, sex, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, reduced left ventricular (LV) function, right ventricular (RV) dilatation, atrial fibrillation, device type, and operator experience on operation time and complication rate were analysed.
Results: Operation time was prolonged in patients with coronary artery disease, inferior myocardial infarction, reduced LV function, and RV dilatation. Implantation of DDD pacemakers prolonged operation time, particularly among operators with a low or medium level of experience. The overall complication rate was 4.5%. Sixty seven per cent of these complications occurred within the first three months. Complication rate was increased by age, reduced LV function, and RV dilatation. Implantation of DDD systems led to a higher complication rate (6.3%) than implantation of VVI (2.6%) or VDD pacemakers (3.2%). These differences were present only among operators with a low or medium level of experience.
Conclusions: Operation time and complication rate increased with age, impaired LV function, and RV dilatation. Complication rates were higher with DDD than with VVI or VDD implantation and were excessive among inexperienced but not experienced operators.
complications; dual chamber pacing; operator experience; single lead VDD pacing; ventricular pacing
BACKGROUND--In patients with drug resistant incessant supraventricular tachycardia, radiofrequency induced ablation of the atrioventricular junction and pacemaker implantation have hitherto been considered a treatment of last resort. OBJECTIVE--To assess the short and long term effects of ablation of the atrioventricular junction on systolic and diastolic left ventricular function in patients with atrial fibrillation with and without impaired left ventricular function. PATIENTS--29 patients (19 men; mean age 65 (SD 7) years (range 50-76)) undergoing ablation of the atrioventricular junction for drug refractory atrial fibrillation were examined a mean of 2, 65, and 216 days after ablation of the bundle of His. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Left ventricular ejection fraction and early filling deceleration times (Edec) were assessed by Doppler echocardiography after 1 to 2 hours of ventricular pacing at a rate of 80 beats/minute. RESULTS--In 14 patients with a left ventricular ejection fraction < 50% left ventricular ejection fraction increased significantly from 32% (11%) to 39% (11%) (65 days) and 45% (11%) (216 days) (P < 0.001); Edec increased from 142 (46) ms to 169 (57) ms (65 days) and 167 (56) ms (216 days) (P < 0.05). In 15 patients with an ejection fraction > or = 50% at the initial examination no significant change in systolic function was observed. CONCLUSIONS--In patients with left ventricular dysfunction long term improvement of systolic and diastolic left ventricular function was seen after ablation of the atrioventricular junction for rate control of atrial fibrillation. This procedure had no adverse effects on normal left ventricular function.
OBJECTIVE—To assess the incidence of arterial embolic events in patients with high rate, drug resistant, severely symptomatic paroxysmal and chronic atrial fibrillation who have undergone atrioventricular (AV) node ablation and permanent pacing.
DESIGN—Multicentre retrospective cohort study.
PATIENTS AND MANAGEMENT—From May 1987 to January 1997, AV node ablation was performed in 585 severely symptomatic patients (mean (SD) age 66 (11) years) with high rate, drug resistant paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (308) or chronic atrial fibrillation (277). Lone atrial fibrillation was present in 133 patients, while the remaining 452 suffered from dilated, ischaemic, or valvar heart disease. Patients underwent VVIR (454) or DDDR (131) pacemaker implantation, after AV node ablation. Antiplatelet agents were given to 202 patients, warfarin to 187 patients.
RESULTS—During a follow up of 33.6 (24.2) months, thromboembolic events were observed in 17 patients (3%); the actuarial occurrence rates of thromboembolism were 1.1%, 3%, 4.2%, and 7.4% after one, three, five, and seven years, respectively. Among five variables, univariate analysis showed that only the presence of chronic atrial fibrillation at the time of ablation (relative risk (RR) = 1.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.02 to 3.20, p = 0.04) and the need for warfarin treatment (RR = 1.6, 95% CI 1.00 to 2.71, p = 0.048) were associated with a significantly higher risk of occurrence of thromboembolic events. On multivariate analysis the only predictor of embolic events during the follow up was the presence of chronic atrial fibrillation.
CONCLUSIONS—Data from this large cohort of patients indicate a fairly low incidence (1.04% per year) of thromboembolic events after AV node ablation and pacing for drug refractory, high rate atrial fibrillation.
Keywords: atrial fibrillation; embolism; atrioventricular node ablation; pacemaker implantation
OBJECTIVE—To assess the effect of adding propafenone to atrial overdrive for the prevention of atrial arrhythmia episodes in patients with DDD pacemakers.
DESIGN—22 patients (8 female, 14 male, mean (SD) age 67 (9) years, range 48 to 77) with DDD pacemakers and frequent paroxysmal atrial arrhythmia episodes were evaluated in a randomised crossover study.
METHODS—Atrial overdrive was defined as a paced rate of 10 paced beats/min above the mean ventricular rate stored for the last 24 hours in the pacemaker memory function. The protocol consisted of two phases of one month each. The first phase consisted of atrial overdrive alone, while in the second phase, propafenone (600 mg/day) was added to atrial overdrive (atrial overdrive + propafenone). All 22 patients underwent the two phases in random order.
RESULTS—Mean ventricular rate was 72 (8) beats/min with atrial overdrive v 73 (6) with atrial overdrive + propafenone (NS). With atrial overdrive, 14 patients (64.6%) had no recorded atrial arrhythmia v 15 (68.2%) with atrial overdrive + propafenone (NS). There was no statistical difference between the atrial overdrive and atrial overdrive + propafenone phases with regard to the number of atrial arrhythmia episodes (14 (27) v 13 (28)), their total duration (30 (78) v 29 (63) h), and their maximum duration (41 (72) v 31 (58) min). However, in the brady-tachy subgroup with persistent atrial arrhythmias, atrial overdrive + propafenone produced a shorter mean cumulative duration of atrial arrhythmia than atrial overdrive (104 (115) v 178 (149) h, p = 0.04), with a significant decrease in the number of atrial arrhythmia episodes (134 (98) v 102 (83), p = 0.05). The proportion of asymptomatic atrial arrhythmia episodes increased only in the AV block group during atrial overdrive + propafenone (p = 0.03). Three patients had atrial arrhythmias during atrial overdrive + propafenone but not with atrial overdrive alone.
CONCLUSIONS—In DDD paced patients, the overall effect of propafenone during atrial overdrive is variable. Propafenone may increase the proportion of asymptomatic atrial arrhythmia episodes. A proarrhythmic effect of propafenone was documented (aggravation of atrial arrhythmias). These results need to be confirmed by further larger randomised studies.
Keywords: dual chamber pacing; atrial overdrive pacing; atrial arrhythmia; propafenone
To evaluate predictors of asymptomatic atrial fibrillation in patients older than 70 years with complete atrioventricular (AV) block, normal left ventricular systolic function, and implanted dual chamber (DDD) pacemaker.
Hundred and eighty six patients with complete AV block were admitted over one year to the Sisters of Mercy University Hospital. The study recruited patients older than 70 years, with no history of atrial fibrillation, heart failure, or reduced left ventricular systolic function. All the patients were implanted with the same pacemaker. Out of 103 patients who were eligible for the study, 81 (78%) were evaluated. Follow-up time ranged from 12 to 33 months (average±standard deviation 23 ± 5 months). Primary end-point was asymptomatic atrial fibrillation occurrence recorded by the pacemaker. Atrial fibrillation occurrence was defined as atrial high rate episodes (AHRE) lasting >5 minutes. Binary logistic regression was used to identify the predictors of development of asymptomatic atrial fibrillation.
The 81 patients were stratified into two groups depending on the presence of AHRE lasting >5 minutes (group 1 had AHRE>5 minutes and group 2 AHRE<5 minutes). AHRE lasting >5 minutes were detected in 49 (60%) patients after 3 months and in 53 (65%) patients after 18 moths. After 3 months, only hypertension (odds ratio [OR], 17.63; P = 0.020) was identified as a predictor of asymptomatic atrial fibrillation. After 18 months, hypertension (OR, 14.0; P = 0.036), P wave duration >100 ms in 12 lead ECG (OR, 16.5; P = 0.001), and intracardial atrial electrogram signal amplitude >4 mV (OR, 4.27; P = 0.045) were identified as predictors of atrial fibrillation.
In our study population, hypertension was the most robust and constant predictor of asymptomatic atrial fibrillation after 3 months, while P wave duration >100 ms in 12-lead ECG and intracardial atrial signal amplitude were predictors after 18 months.
We report a case of long-term, successful, endocardial atrioventricular pacing in a 32-year-old man who had severe heart failure and ascites after having undergone a Fontan procedure for tricuspid atresia 9 years earlier. The patient was referred to our hospital for Fontan revision. However, electroanatomic mapping of the right atrium revealed viable tissue at the interatrial septum above the os of the coronary sinus, and it appeared that the left ventricle could be paced from a coronary sinus branch. Therefore, instead of Fontan revision, an endocardial atrioventricular pacemaker was implanted transvenously.
On 5-year follow-up, the patient remained in New York Heart Association functional class I and had not been readmitted to the hospital for congestive heart failure or arrhythmias. His atrial and ventricular leads continued to show excellent pacing and sensing results.
Fontan procedure/adverse effects; heart conduction system; heart failure; pacing, endocardial atrioventricular; pacemaker, artificial; postoperative complications; tricuspid atresia