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Card Electrophysiol Rev. 2003 Dec;7(4):329-32.

Multisite atrial pacing for atrial fibrillation prevention: where to go from here?

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Isala Clinics, Location Weezenlanden, Zwolle, The Netherlands.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common arrhythmia associated with stroke, increased mortality and with a negative impact on quality of life. Pharmacologic treatments for AF have not provided long-term relief from arrhythmia recurrence. Multi-site atrial pacing was introduced by Daubert and colleagues about 10 years ago for the treatment of severe atrial conduction delays in patients with sick sinus syndrome. They found that this type of atrial stimulation reduced or prevented AF. Multi-site atrial pacing results in reduction of intra-atrial and interatrial conduction differences and diminishes heterogeneity of refractoriness, i.e. atrial resynchronization. Acute electrophysiological studies have shown that biatrial stimulation reduced AF inducibility. The Dutch Dual-site Right Atrial Pacing for Prevention of Atrial Fibrillation study was a prospective randomized crossover trial comparing the recurrences of AF in dual-site right atrial and single-site high right atrial pacing in patients with symptomatic medically refractory AF, without or with minimal structural heart disease. Patients were randomized to initial dual-site pacing (Group I n = 18) or initial single-site (Group II n = 22) pacing. After 6 months or after a study endpoint was reached patients were crossed over to the other pacing modality.Although, the arrhythmia free intervals were longer for dual-site pacing during both treatments periods (Group I 162 +/- 12 and Group II 114 +/- 15 days) compared to single-site pacing (Group I 143 +/- 16 and Group II 97 +/- 10 days) the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.061). However, the sequence of the randomized treatment periods had a significant effect on outcome (p < 0.02). Event free intervals (AF > 48 hours requiring electrical cardioversion) were longer during dual-site pacing in both groups compared to single-site stimulation but the difference was statistically not significant (p = 0.055) because of treatment interaction (P < 0.05). To establish the clinical benefits of multi-site pacing for the treatment of patients with medically refractory symptomatic AF, additional prospective randomized studies are needed. Trials with a parallel design are necessary to avoid carry-over effects of different stimulation protocols.

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