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Circulation. 2005 Nov 8;112(19):2904-11. Epub 2005 Oct 31.

Chronic atrioventricular nodal vagal stimulation: first evidence for long-term ventricular rate control in canine atrial fibrillation model.

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  • 1Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.



We have previously demonstrated that selective atrioventricular nodal (AVN) vagal stimulation (AVN-VS) can be used to control ventricular rate during atrial fibrillation (AF) in acute experiments. However, it is not known whether this approach could provide a long-term treatment in conscious animals. Thus, this study reports the first observations on the long-term efficacy and safety of this novel approach to control ventricular rate during AF in chronically instrumented dogs.


In 18 dogs, custom-made bipolar patch electrodes were sutured to the epicardial AVN fat pad for delivery of selective AVN-VS by a subcutaneously implanted nerve stimulator (pulse width 100 micros or 1 ms, frequency 20 or 160 Hz, amplitude 6 to 10 V). Fast-rate right atrial pacing (600 bpm) was used to induce and maintain AF. ECG, blood pressure, and body temperature were monitored telemetrically. One week after the induction of AF, AVN-VS was delivered and maintained for at least 5 weeks. It was found that AVN-VS had a consistent effect on ventricular rate slowing (on average 45+/-13 bpm) over the entire period of observation. Echocardiography showed improvement of cardiac indices with ventricular rate slowing. AVN-VS was well tolerated by the animals, causing no signs of distress or discomfort.


Beneficial long-term ventricular rate slowing during AF can be achieved by implantation of a nerve stimulator attached to the epicardial AVN fat pad. This novel concept is an attractive alternative to other methods of rate control and may be applicable in a selected group of patients.

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