Chronotropic incompetence: a common and progressive finding in pacemaker patients

Am Heart J. 1992 May;123(5):1216-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-8703(10)80001-8.


Thirty-eight patients (ages 40 to 77 years, mean 63) followed in a pacemaker clinic underwent exercise treadmill tests to determine chronotropic incompetence. There were 28 men and 10 women. Twenty-seven patients had atrioventricular (AV) block and 11 patients had sick sinus syndrome. All patients were exercised to fatigue. None of the patients were receiving beta-blockers or other drugs that could reduce heart rate. Maximum heart rate (MHR) and percent predicted maximum heart rate (% PMHR) were used as an index of chronotropic incompetence. Chronotropic incompetence was defined as inability to achieve a % PMHR of greater than 80%. The overall incidence of chronotropic incompetence was 58% (22 of 38 patients). We examined the relationship between chronotropic incompetence and the time to pacemaker implantation. We found that in patients who had pacemakers for less than 2 years, the mean MHR was 125 +/- 21.6 beats/min compared with 111.9 +/- 23.6 beats/min for patients who had pacemakers implanted for longer than 4 years. Similarly, the mean % PMHR decreased from 76.5 +/- 12.5% to 68.7 +/- 15.4% in patients with pacemakers less than 2 years versus those with pacemakers for more than 4 years. Fifty-three percent of the patients with a pacemaker less than 2 years old were chronotropic incompetent versus 70% of the patients with a pacemaker more than 4 years old. These data suggest that chronotropic incompetence worsens with time after pacemaker implant. To further support this, eight patients with AV block underwent a second stress test an average of 2 years following the first.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pacemaker, Artificial*