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J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2007 Jan;18(1):60-5.

Deterioration of organization in the first minutes of atrial fibrillation: a beat-to-beat analysis of cycle length and wave similarity.

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1
Department of Physics, University of Trento, Trento, Italy. ravelli@science.unitn.it

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

It has been recently suggested that many episodes of atrial fibrillation (AF) may be partially organized at the onset and thus more suitable for antitachycardia pacing therapy. Nevertheless, the time course of organization in the first minutes of AF has not been quantified yet.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Twenty episodes of paroxysmal AF were studied. Electrograms were recorded from the right atrium (RA), distal (CSd), and proximal coronary sinus (CSp). The time course of AF cycle length (AFCL) and the regularity of wave morphology (similarity index S) were beat-to-beat measured at each recording site during the first 7 minutes of AF. AFCL and S showed a decreasing trend after the onset of AF. AFCL decreased from 208 +/- 31 to 171 +/- 21 msec (P < 0.001), from 206 +/- 40 to 169 +/- 23 msec (P < 0.001) and from 190 +/- 42 to 152 +/- 18 msec (P < 0.05), respectively, in RA, CSd, and CSp. Similarly, the similarity index decreased in CSd from 0.37 +/- 0.27 to 0.12 +/- 0.09 (P < 0.01) and in RA from 0.40 +/- 0.18 to 0.17 +/- 0.16 (P < 0.001). The 80% of the decrease occurred during the first 3 minutes of the arrhythmia, while after this time both cycle length and similarity index did not change significantly anymore. Conversely, the electrical activity in CSp was highly disorganized (S = 0.05 +/- 0.03) even in the first minute of AF, and no decreasing temporal trend was observed.

CONCLUSION:

Higher levels of organization and longer fibrillation intervals exist at the onset of AF. The degree of organization of the electrical activity decays within less than 3 minutes. Since antitachycardia pacing success rate increases with high levels of organization, these results suggest an early delivery of pacing treatment.

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