Prolonged atrial conduction. A major predisposing factor for the development of atrial flutter.
Electrophysiological studies were performed during sinus rhythm on 21 patients who had demonstrated the spontaneous occurrence of sustained atrial flutter. The purpose was to determine if atrial conduction disease is a prediposing factor for the development of atrial flutter. Patients with atrial enlargement were excluded from the series. The control group consisted of 11 age-matched patients with normal electrocardiograms and electrophysiology studies. The flutter group showed prolongation of the mean right intra-atrial conduction time at 50 msec (control of 37 msec, P less than 0.05), the mean interatrial conduction time at 92 msec (control of 44 msec, P less than 0.001) and the mean P wave duration at 132 msec (control of 112 msec, P less than 0.01). The flutter group also demonstrated a higher incidence of sinus node dysfunction and ventricular conduction disease compared to the control group. These data indicate that patients who develop atrial flutter have atrial conduction disease. Atrial conduction disease appears to be 1) a major prediposing factor for the development of atrial flutter and 2) a part of the fibro-degenerative conduction disease spectrum.
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