The primary role of cardiac rate in adapting cardiac output to changing physiological needs has been more clearly recognized in recent years. Previously, the rate of cardiac stimulation had been determined either at pacemaker manufacture, by programming a single rate, or by sensing the atrium. More recently, sensing another physiological or nonphysiological function that changes in response to body need has become possible. Exercise changes blood oxygen saturation, central venous pH, central venous temperature, minute ventilation and respiratory rate, stroke volume, circulating catecholamines, QT interval, evoked endocardial response to a stimulus, and the mechanics of myocardial contraction. Some sensors respond to muscle work but not to intellectual effort or emotion. Pacemaker-based sensors of physiological function or activity allow a change in cardiac stimulation rate in response to need. Whichever sensor is used, increases in ventricular rate during exercise regularly produce a cardiac output response. Single-chamber, rate-modulated pacemakers in atrium or ventricle and dual-chamber devices are now implanted on a widespread basis. These drive the atrium, the ventricle, or both, sensing or pacing the atrium at a rate determined by the sensor.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association