Role of the Atrium in Determining the Functional and Effective Refractory Periods and the Conductivity of the Atrioventricular Transmission System
Relative contributions of the atria and the atrioventricular (AV) node to AV conduction were studied in isolated, blood-perfused dog hearts. The functional refractory period of the atria, although shorter than that of the AV node, determined the functional refractory period of the entire transmission system in 50% of the hearts. Slow atrial conduction of early beats greatly influenced the shape of the curve used to determine the functional refractory period of the transmission system. The atrial effective refractory period was also shorter than the effective refractory period of the AV node. However, the effective refractory period of the entire transmission system was equal to that of the atrium when the driving interval was longer than 320 msec, and it decreased as the driving interval was shortened. At driving intervals of 320 msec or less, the effective refractory period of the AV transmission system abruptly increased and became equal to the effective refractory period of the node. Conduction of early premature responses from near the sinoatrial node to the AV node was supernormal in 50% of the hearts. Supernormal conduction of premature atrial responses in the ventricles was also observed. The period of supernormal conduction in both tissues shifted toward greater prematurity as heart rate increased. The importance of the atrium in determining the functional properties of the AV transmission system has been previously underestimated.
- Received June 4, 1973.
- Accepted July 31, 1973.
- © 1973 American Heart Association, Inc.