Slow conduction in the infarcted human heart. 'Zigzag' course of activation.
BACKGROUND Ventricular tachycardias occurring in the chronic phase of myocardial infarction are caused by reentry. Areas of slow conduction, facilitating reentry, are often found in the infarcted zone. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the mechanism of slow conduction in the chronic infarcted human heart.
METHODS AND RESULTS Spread of activation was studied in infarcted papillary muscles from hearts of patients who underwent heart transplantation because of infarction. Recordings were carried out on 10 papillary muscles that were superfused in a tissue bath. High-resolution mapping was performed in areas revealing slow conduction. Activation delay between sites perpendicular to the fiber direction and 1.4 mm apart could be as long as 45 milliseconds. Analysis of activation times revealed that activation spread in tracts parallel to the fiber direction. Conduction velocity in the tracts was between 0.6 and 1 m/s. Although tracts were separated from each other over distances up to 8 mm, they often connected with each other at one or more sites, forming a complex network of connected tracts. In this network, wave fronts could travel perpendicular to the fiber direction. Separation of tracts was due to collagenous septa. At sites where tracts were interconnected, the collagenous barriers were interrupted.
CONCLUSIONS Slow conduction perpendicular to the fiber direction in infarcted myocardial tissue is caused by a "zigzag" course of activation at high speed. Activation proceeds along pathways lengthened by branching and merging bundles of surviving myocytes ensheathed by collagenous septa.
- Copyright © 1993 by American Heart Association