Ventricular beats induce variations in cycle length of rapid (type II) atrial flutter in humans. Evidence of leading circle reentry.
BACKGROUND Slight variation in cycle lengths of common and rapid atrial flutter in humans is an established phenomenon, but its mechanisms have not been completely clarified. In a previous study, we demonstrated that in common atrial flutter the variations in atrial cycle length were due to atrial stretch affecting the revolution time of a reentrant circuit. In the present study, we investigate the nature of atrial cycle length variations in the rapid type of human atrial flutter.
METHODS AND RESULTS Atrial interval variations of 17 episodes of rapid atrial flutter in 14 patients were investigated by measuring the sequence of atrial intervals from intraesophageal or intra-atrial leads and the onset of QRS complexes from a surface lead (V1). To study whether interval variation in flutter cycle was related to ventricular activity, a phase plot was constructed in which the flutter cycle length was plotted against the time after the previous QRS complex. This showed that the interval fluctuations were strictly coupled to the moment of ventricular activation. After the onset of the QRS complex, the rapid atrial flutter interval gradually decreased by an average of 4.1% (P < .001) and reached a minimum value after 300 to 600 milliseconds. Thereafter, the intervals increased again until the next ventricular beat occurred. In 10 patients developing both common and rapid atrial flutter, two different phase relations were found. Whereas during common atrial flutter the atrial interval increased after the QRS complex, it decreased during rapid atrial flutter. In three patients, intra-atrial pressure was recorded together with the electrical activity during both common and rapid atrial flutter episodes. This showed that variations in atrial flutter cycle length were associated with the rise of atrial pressure during ventricular contraction.
CONCLUSIONS These findings indicate a role of contraction-excitation feedback caused by atrial stretch after a ventricular activation. The shortening of the atrial interval after the onset of the QRS complex as found in patients during rapid atrial flutter can be explained by stretch-induced shortening of atrial refractoriness and consequent shortening of the revolution time of a functionally determined intra-atrial circuit.
- Copyright © 1994 by American Heart Association