Frequency analysis of atrial fibrillation from the surface electrocardiogram

Indian Pacing Electrophysiol J. 2004 Jul 1;4(3):122-36.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia encountered in clinical practice. Neither the natural history of AF nor its response to therapy are sufficiently predictable by clinical and echocardiographic parameters. Atrial fibrillatory frequency (or rate) can reliably be assessed from the surface electrocardiogram (ECG) using digital signal processing (filtering, subtraction of averaged QRST complexes, and power spectral analysis) and shows large inter-individual variability. This measurement correlates well with intraatrial cycle length, a parameter which appears to have primary importance in AF domestication and response to therapy. AF with a low fibrillatory rate is more likely to terminate spontaneously, and responds better to antiarrhythmic drugs or cardioversion while high rate AF is more often persistent and refractory to therapy. In conclusion, frequency analysis of AF seems to be useful for non-invasive assessment of electrical remodeling in AF and may subsequently be helpful for guiding AF therapy.