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J Electrocardiol. 2012 Sep;45(5):445-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jelectrocard.2012.06.029.

Interatrial blocks. A separate entity from left atrial enlargement: a consensus report.

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1
Institut Català Ciències Cardiovasculars, Barcelona, Spain. abayes@csic-icc.org

Abstract

Impaired interatrial conduction or interatrial block is well documented but is not described as an individual electrocardiographic (ECG) pattern in most of ECG books, although the term atrial abnormalities to encompass both concepts, left atrial enlargement (LAE) and interatrial block, has been coined. In fact, LAE and interatrial block are often associated, similarly to what happens with ventricular enlargement and ventricular block. The interatrial blocks, that is, the presence of delay of conduction between the right and left atria, are the most frequent atrial blocks. These may be of first degree (P-wave duration >120 milliseconds), third degree (longer P wave with biphasic [±] morphology in inferior leads), and second degree when these patterns appear transiently in the same ECG recording (atrial aberrancy). There are evidences that these electrocardiographic P-wave patterns are due to a block because they may (a) appear transiently, (b) be without associated atrial enlargement, and (c) may be reproduced experimentally. The presence of interatrial blocks may be seen in the absence of atrial enlargement but often are present in case of LAE. The most important clinical implications of interatrial block are the following: (a) the first degree interatrial blocks are very common, and their relation with atrial fibrillation and an increased risk for global and cardiovascular mortality has been demonstrated; (b) the third degree interatrial blocks are less frequent but are strong markers of LAE and paroxysmal supraventricular tachyarrhythmias. Their presence has been considered a true arrhythmological syndrome.

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