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Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1990 Mar;13(3):314-25.

Cycle length alternation during supraventricular tachycardia: occurrence and mechanism in a canine model of AV reentrant tachycardia.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Cycle length alternation (CLA) is commonly observed during supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) onset and termination. The present study was designed to gain insights into the mechanism and potential clinical relevance of CLA by comparing computer simulations of tachycardia to directly observed behavior in a canine model of AV reentrant tachycardia (AVRT). The computer model was based on the hypothesis that CLA is secondary to feedback between AV nodal output during SVT and subsequent AV nodal input, and used the measured anterograde AV nodal recovery curve (AV vs A1A2) to predict sequential AV and RR intervals during SVT. Orthodromic AVRT was created experimentally in 11 open-chested, autonomically-blocked (atropine plus nadolol) dogs using a sensing and pacing circuit that mimicked a retrograde-conducting accessory pathway. Steady-state cycle length and AV interval during experimental AVRT closely paralleled predictions made by the computer model. CLA appeared consistently at the onset of experimental AVRT at programmed VA intervals less than or equal to 100 msec (corresponding to VA less than or equal to 150 msec as measured clinically) in all dogs. The amplitude and duration of CLA increased as the VA interval decreased, and closely paralleled predictions based on the computer model. Abrupt accelerations in atrial pacing to the same rate as AVRT did not result in alternation of cycle length. In conclusion, alternation of cycle length results from feedback between AV nodal output and subsequent AV nodal input at the onset of reentrant supraventricular tachycardia, and does not require changes in autonomic tone or dual AV nodal pathways. CLA occurrence, amplitude, and duration are predictable based on AV node recovery properties, and depend on retrograde conduction properties of the reentrant circuit. The presence of CLA suggests that the AV node is an integral component of the SVT reentry circuit, and may be useful clinically to identify the mechanism of supraventricular tachycardias.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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