Impact of high-grade atrioventricular block and cumulative frequent pacing on atrial arrhythmias

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2018 Sep;41(9):1158-1164. doi: 10.1111/pace.13425. Epub 2018 Jul 16.


Background: The relationship between high-grade atrioventricular block (HGAVB) with cumulative frequent pacing and risk of atrial arrhythmias (AAs) has not been well characterized. We hypothesized HGAVB and pacing may have significant impact on incidence and prevalence of AAs by modulating atrial substrate.

Objective: To determine impact of HGAVB and pacing on AAs including atrial fibrillation (AF), atrial flutter (AFL), and atrial tachycardia (AT).

Methods: All consecutive patients who underwent dual-chamber pacemaker implantation for HGAVB from 2005 to 2011 at the University of Chicago were included. AAs and percent of pacing were detected through device interrogation. Patients' data were collected from electronic medical records and clinic visits.

Results: A total of 166 patients (mean age 71 ± 15 years; 54% female, 56% African American) were studied. AF was documented in 27% of patients before pacemaker implantation. During a mean 5.8 ± 2.2 years of follow-up, 47% had device-detected AF, 10% AFL, and 26% AT. New-onset AF was documented in 40 of the 122 patients without prior AF (33%). Continuous (≥ 99%) right ventricular pacing was associated with significantly decreased AF prevalence (34% vs 59%, P = 0.005), and correlated with lower incidence (26% vs 41%, P = 0.22). Pacing suppressed AF in 14% of patients with baseline AF; those patients had lower atrial pacing (3.2% vs 45%, P < 0.0001). Left atrial dilation was the only independent predictor of AF with frequent pacing (P = 0.009).

Conclusions: HGAVB is associated with high incidence and prevalence of AAs with and without pacing. Cumulative frequent (≥99%) ventricular pacing reduces risk of AF in patients with HGAVB.

Keywords: atrial arrhythmias; atrial fibrillation; atrioventricular block; pacemaker.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology*
  • Atrial Flutter / epidemiology
  • Atrial Flutter / etiology*
  • Atrial Flutter / physiopathology*
  • Atrioventricular Block / physiopathology*
  • Atrioventricular Block / therapy*
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence