Rate-dependent effects of diltiazem on human atrioventricular nodal properties.
BACKGROUND Tachycardia enhances the channel-blocking effects of antiarrhythmic drugs. In contrast to the extensive data regarding the rate-dependent effects of sodium channel blockers in humans, little is known about the frequency-dependent effects of calcium channel blockers on human atrioventricular (AV) nodal properties. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the importance of heart rate in modulating the electrophysiological effects of diltiazem in humans.
METHODS AND RESULTS Electrophysiological studies were performed in 25 patients. Sinus node, atrial, and AV nodal function were evaluated at multiple atrial rates under control conditions and after administration of one of three intravenous doses of diltiazem designed to produce low, intermediate, and high stable plasma concentrations (designated doses 1, 2, and 3, respectively). Results were analyzed in terms of the longest and shortest cycle lengths obtainable in each patient under control and drug conditions. Plasma concentrations of diltiazem were stable and averaged 43 +/- 4, 73 +/- 6, and 136 +/- 11 ng/ml for doses 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Sinus node recovery time, intra-atrial conduction time, atrial effective refractory period, and HV interval were unaffected by diltiazem infusion. Effects of diltiazem were limited to changes in AV nodal parameters. Stable, dose-dependent increases in Wenckebach cycle length were observed after all three doses of diltiazem (increases of 54 +/- 13, 84 +/- 18, and 174 +/- 33 msec for doses 1, 2, and 3, respectively). Small nonsignificant increases in AH interval and atrioventricular effective refractory period (AVERP) were observed after dose 1 of diltiazem. At long cycle lengths, diltiazem caused modest increases in AH interval (3 +/- 4 and 25 +/- 8 msec for doses 2 and 3, respectively) and AVERP (36 +/- 12 and 70 +/- 25 msec). Drug effects were far greater at short cycle lengths (45 +/- 17 msec, 58 +/- 12 msec for AH interval and 80 +/- 24 msec, 163 +/- 41 msec for AVERP; p less than 0.05 versus values at long cycle lengths). At rapid rates, effects of diltiazem on AVERP substantially exceeded those on AV conduction, a result that could account for the beneficial effects of diltiazem during paroxysmal AV reentrant tachycardia by decreasing the excitable gap.
CONCLUSIONS Depressant effects of diltiazem on human AV nodal function are highly dependent on atrial rate; the rate-dependent actions on AV nodal refractoriness probably contribute to beneficial effects of diltiazem in patients with supraventricular arrhythmias.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association