Selective functional characteristics of rate-induced fatigue in rabbit atrioventricular node.
The slowly developing rate-induced prolongation in atrioventricular nodal conduction time, termed "fatigue," was selectively studied using specifically designed stimulation protocols in isolated rabbit heart preparations. A nodal recovery curve (A2H2 versus H1A2 intervals; nodal conduction time of each premature beat plotted against corresponding recovery time) was obtained before and after a stable and nearly maximum fatigue had been reached by driving the atrium for 5 minutes at a fast rate close to the upper limit of 1:1 nodal conduction. The fatigue uniformly prolonged all A2H2 intervals (12.3 +/- 1.3 msec) and systematically increased the minimum H1A2 interval at which complete nodal block occurred (24.8 +/- 4.0 msec) (p less than 0.01, n = 6). To study the rate and time dependence of fatigue, nodal conduction times were obtained during three rapid 5-minute pacings corresponding to 50%, 75%, and 100% shortening of the pacing interval in the 1:1 nodal conduction range. The respective maximum fatigue-induced increases in conduction time were 5.4 +/- 1.8, 9.0 +/- 2.7, and 12.5 +/- 2.1 msec (p less than 0.01, n = 6). However, the pacing interval had no significant effect on the time required to reach either 50% (17.1 +/- 3.5 seconds) or 90% (92.6 +/- 15.4 seconds) of the fatigue observed after 5 minutes of fast rate. At the termination of any rapid stimulation, the fatigue effect dissipated with a time course that was inverse but symmetrical to that of its induction. These findings support the existence of an independent, slow, nodal memory process by which the conduction time changes according to past events with a long time constant.
- Copyright © 1988 by American Heart Association