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Circ Res. 1984 Jan;54(1):10-20.

Reduction of ischemic depolarization by the calcium channel blocker diltiazem. Correlation with improvement of ventricular conduction and early arrhythmias in the dog.


Calcium channel blockers suppress early ischemic arrhythmias, possibly by diminishing intracellular calcium overload and its effect on the ventricular action potential. To explore this, we compared the effects of diltiazem on ischemic "injury" potentials and ventricular fibrillation during serial coronary artery occlusions in dogs. Injury potentials and ventricular fibrillation were elicited every 15-25 minutes by simultaneous occlusion of the left anterior descending and circumflex arteries during rapid atrial pacing. DC epicardial electrograms were recorded differentially between the ischemic region and a small nonischemic region supplied by a proximal branch of the left anterior descending artery. Injury potentials developed with a uniform time course during five control occlusions, but were reduced by diltiazem infusion (0.5 mg/kg over 25 minutes) in each of eight dogs. The mean diastolic injury potential (T-Q depression) at 150 seconds of ischemia was 9.1 +/- 2.7 mV before diltiazem and 6.1 +/- 1.6 mV afterward (P less than 0.001). Diltiazem increased the mean time between coronary occlusion and ventricular fibrillation from 186 to 366 seconds (P less than 10(-5), but did not change the magnitude of the diastolic injury potential at onset of ventricular fibrillation. Diltiazem also delayed ischemia-induced conduction impairment to the same extent that it delayed injury potential development. In five dogs, the effect of diltiazem on regional blood flow near the epicardial electrodes was measured by infusion of radionuclide-labeled microspheres. Coronary occlusion reduced flow to the ischemic zone from 0.86 to 0.05 ml/min per g (P = 0.001). Diltiazem increased preocclusion flow by 11% (P = 0.03), but did not significantly alter flow during occlusion. Hemodynamic measurements show that diltiazem did not diminish cardiac work. Diltiazem therefore produced a flow-independent reduction of cellular depolarization during ischemia, which may be due to relief of calcium overload, and which may explain the antifibrillatory effect.

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