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Paradoxical Autonomic Modulation of Atrioventricular Nodal Conduction During Heart Rate Turbulence


  • Supported in part by the Wellcome Trust Fellowship Grant No. 060683 and Research grant from Ministry of Health of Czech Republic No. 6685-3.

Address for reprints: Dan Wichterle, M.D., Dept. of Cardiological Sciences, St. George's Hospital Medical School, Cranmer Terrace, SW17 0RE London, United Kingdom. Fax: + 44-20-8725-0846; e-mail:


WICHTERLE, D., et al.: Paradoxical Autonomic Modulation of Atrioventricular Nodal Conduction During Heart Rate Turbulence.Heart rate turbulence (HRT) represents a biphasic chronotropic response of sinus rhythm to a single ventricular premature beat (VPB). It consists of early acceleration and late deceleration of heart rate and is predominantly mediated by the autonomic nervous system. The aim of this study was to investigate if autonomic perturbations after a VPB exert a significant effect on AV conduction. Both surface ECG and the high right atrial electrogram were recorded at a sampling frequency of 1000 Hz in 26 patients (24 men, mean age 49 ± 12 years) referred for electrophysiological evaluation. The stimulation protocol consisted of series of single ventricular extrastimuli delivered from the right ventricular apex at decreasing coupling intervals. A biphasic profile of AV intervals after a single VPB was observed. The response of AV conduction to a VPB was approximately 25 times and 15 times weaker in the early and late phase, respectively, than that of R-R intervals. Thus, AV interval dynamics significantly preceded the change in R-R intervals, which is in conflict with the near to zero phase of transfer function between R-R and AV intervals described in previous studies. A significant AV turbulence was observed consisting of early shortening and later prolongation of AV intervals after VPB. Its magnitude was much smaller than that of HRT. Dynamics of AV delay has little impact on the accuracy of HRT assessment from surface ECG. The significant temporal dissociation of R-R and AV interval dynamics after a VPB remains unexplained. (PACE 2003; 26[Pt. II]:440–443)