Basic mechanisms of reentrant arrhythmias

Curr Opin Cardiol. 2001 Jan;16(1):1-7. doi: 10.1097/00001573-200101000-00001.


The mechanisms responsible for active cardiac arrhythmias are generally divided into two major categories: (1) enhanced or abnormal impulse formation and (2) reentry. Reentry can be subdivided into three subcategories: (1) circus movement, (2) reflection, and (3) Phase 2 reentry. Reentry occurs when a propagating impulse fails to die out after normal activation of the heart and persists to re-excite the heart after expiration of the refractory period. Evidence implicating reentry as a mechanism of cardiac arrhythmias stems back to the turn of the century. Amplification of intrinsic electrical heterogeneities provides the substrate responsible for developing Phase 2 and circus movement reentry, which underlie ventricular tachycardia in the long QT and Brugada syndromes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Heart Conduction System / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular*