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Heart Rhythm. 2007 Apr;4(4):478-86. Epub 2006 Dec 15.

Direct measurements of membrane time constant during defibrillation strength shocks.

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Medtronic Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55432, USA. <>



Defibrillation shocks impose significant energy demand on implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs). Several modeling studies have been devoted to optimizing shock parameters, and a large number of these studies treat the heart as a simplified lumped network. The time constant of membrane polarization (tau(m)) is a key variable for such modeling efforts.


The purpose of this study was to perform direct measurements of transmembrane potential (V(m)) during defibrillation strength shocks and estimate tau(m) of membrane polarization.


A portion of the left ventricular epicardial surface of Langendorff-perfused rabbit hearts was stimulated using uniform electric fields produced by two parallel line electrodes. The V(m)s were recorded from di-4-ANEPPS-stained hearts using a multisite optical mapping system. The hearts were paced with 20 S1 pulses from the apex, and shocks (S2: 5, 10, 20 V/cm) were applied via the line electrodes during the action potential of the 20th S1 at two different coupling intervals (S1S2: 120 and 180 ms). Residual responses were obtained by subtracting responses to the 19th S1 from the responses to the 20th S1S2 pair and used for time-constant analysis by fitting a monoexponential function.


tau(m) exhibited a large variation and ranged from approximately 1 to 30 ms. Furthermore, tau(m) varied with electric field strength, S1S2 interval, position of the tissue from stimulating electrodes, and polarity of the response. To a large extent, the effects of all these factors were captured in a single parameter-the change in transmembrane voltage (DeltaV(m)) in response to the applied field (E). tau(m) showed a monotonically decreasing trend with DeltaV(m) for all Es and S1S2s.


Time constant of membrane polarization varies significantly during defibrillation strength shocks and shows a strong dependence on DeltaV(m).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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