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J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2004 May;15(5):507-12.

Reversal of electrical remodeling after cardioversion of persistent atrial fibrillation.

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Division of Cardiology, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, Oregon, USA.



In animals, atrial fibrillation results in reversible atrial electrical remodeling manifested as shortening of the atrial effective refractory period, slowing of intra-atrial conduction, and prolongation of sinus node recovery time. There is limited information on changes in these parameters after cardioversion in patients with persistent atrial fibrillation.


Thirty-eight patients who had been in atrial fibrillation for 1 to 12 months underwent electrophysiologic testing 10 minutes and 1 hour after cardioversion. At 1 week, 19 patients still in sinus rhythm returned for repeat testing. Reverse remodeling of the effective refractory period was not uniform across the three atrial sites tested. At the lateral right atrium, there was a highly significant increase in the effective refractory period between 10 minutes and 1 hour after cardioversion (drive cycle length 400 ms: 204 +/- 17 ms vs 211 +/- 20 ms, drive cycle length 550 ms: 213 +/- 18 ms vs 219 +/- 23 ms, P < 0.001). The effective refractory period at the coronary sinus and distal coronary sinus did not change in the first hour but had increased by 1 week. The corrected sinus node recovery time did not change in the first hour but was shorter at 1 week (606 +/- 311 ms vs 408 +/- 160 ms, P = 0.009). P wave duration also was shorter at 1 week (135 +/- 18 ms vs 129 +/- 13 ms, P = 0.04) consistent with increasing atrial conduction velocity.


The atrial effective refractory period increases, sinus node function improves, and atrial conduction velocity goes up in the first week after cardioversion of long-standing atrial fibrillation in humans. Reverse electrical remodeling of the effective refractory period occurs at different rates in different regions of the atrium.

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