Wenckebach periods in sinoatrial block: experimental and clinical evidence

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1991 Jun;14(6):1032-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.1991.tb04154.x.


The reality of sinoatrial Wenckebach periods (WP) has been suggested, but not proven, in the literature. We report experimental and clinical data showing WP in sinoatrial blocks. Experimental sinoatrial blocks were induced by superfusion of bepridil (10(-5) M) in 15 preparations of isolated rabbit right atria. Different types of block were observed, including Blumberger I block, i.e., sinoatrial WP. The recordings showed that the typical pattern of Blumberger type IA block and sinoatrial WP may be due to transient acceleration of the sinus rate, without change in the increment. We also observed sinoatrial WP in a 72-year-old patient on direct recordings of the sinus node (SN) electrical activity. In this case, transient acceleration of the sinus rate also seemed to be involved in the genesis of sinoatrial WP. Analysis of these clinical and experimental data showed similarities that may explain the mechanism of the WP. Usually type IA Blumberger block is said to involve a decrease in the sinoatrial increment to explain the atrial sequence (decrease in PP interval followed by a pause shorter than twice the value of the preceding cycle, then a cycle longer than the one preceding the pause). In fact, this pattern can be observed when the acceleration of the higher structure, the SN, induces block within the lower structure, i.e., the atrium.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Atrial Function / drug effects
  • Atrial Function / physiology*
  • Bepridil / administration & dosage
  • Bepridil / pharmacology
  • Bundle of His / physiopathology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrocardiography* / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Rabbits
  • Sinoatrial Block / physiopathology*
  • Sinoatrial Node / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Bepridil