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Circulation. 1990 Jun;81(6):1911-20.

Early afterdepolarizations induced in vivo by reperfusion of ischemic myocardium. A possible mechanism for reperfusion arrhythmias.

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Centro di Fisiologia Clinica e Ipertensione, Ospedale Maggiore, Milano, Italy.


Recent studies in vitro have shown that afterdepolarizations may develop during reperfusion after hypoxia, thus suggesting that these afterdepolarizations may contribute to the genesis of reperfusion arrhythmias. We recorded monophasic action potentials (MAPs) during myocardial ischemia and reperfusion to investigate whether afterdepolarizations develop in vivo when reperfusion arrhythmias occur. In 15 anesthetized cats, 24 trials of 10 minutes of occlusion of the left anterior descending coronary artery were followed by reperfusion. In 13 of 24 (54%) trials, afterdepolarizations developed at the moment of reperfusion, with a mean amplitude of 2.4 +/- 1.1 mV (13 +/- 8% of MAP amplitude). When cycle length was either increased by vagal stimulation or decreased by atrial pacing, early afterdepolarization (EAD) amplitude was modified, according to what has been described for EAD in vitro, with a positive linear correlation between cycle length and EAD amplitude (r = 0.91, p less than 0.0001). The occurrence of EAD was not related to rapid changes in left ventricular pressure. In the eight of 13 (62%) cases in which EAD development was associated with reperfusion arrhythmias, the coupling interval of the EAD and of premature ventricular contractions showed a significant correlation (r = 0.86, p less than 0.0001). However, in five of 13 (38%) cases, occurrence of reperfusion arrhythmias was not accompanied by the presence of EAD on the MAP recording. In two animals, a 2:1 block of EAD conduction was observed, and this was reflected on the intracavitary electrocardiogram as T wave alternans. Thus, EADs occur frequently after reperfusion in vivo, with a time course that parallels the onset of reperfusion arrhythmias. This finding further supports the role of triggered activity in the genesis of reperfusion arrhythmias in vivo.

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