Structural remodeling and conduction velocity dynamics in the human left atrium: Relationship with reentrant mechanisms sustaining atrial fibrillation

Heart Rhythm. 2019 Jan;16(1):18-25. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2018.07.019. Epub 2018 Jul 17.


Background: Rate-dependent conduction velocity (CV) slowing is associated with atrial fibrillation (AF) initiation and reentrant mechanisms.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between bipolar voltage, CV dynamics, and AF drivers.

Methods: Patients undergoing catheter ablation for persistent AF (<24 months) were enrolled. Unipolar electrograms were recorded with a 64-pole basket catheter during atrial pacing at 4 pacing intervals (PIs) during sinus rhythm. CVs were measured between pole pairs along the wavefront path and correlated with underlying bipolar voltage. CV dynamics within low-voltage zones (LVZs <0.5 mV) were compared to those of non-LVZs (≥0.5 mV) and were correlated to driver sites mapped using CARTOFINDER (Biosense Webster).

Results: Eighteen patients were included (age 62 ± 10 years). Mean CV at 600 ms was 1.59 ± 0.13 m/s in non-LVZs vs 0.98 ± 0.23 m/s in LVZs (P <.001). CV decreased incrementally over all 4 PIs in LVZs, whereas in non-LVZs a substantial decrease in CV was only seen between PIs 300-250 ms (0.59 ± 0.09 m/s; P <.001). Rate-dependent CV slowing sites measurements, defined as exhibiting CV reduction ≥20% more than the mean CV reduction seen between PIs 600-250 ms for that voltage zone, were predominantly in LVZs (0.2-0.5 mV; 75.6% ± 15.5%; P <.001). Confirmed rotational drivers were mapped to these sites in 94.1% of cases (sensitivity 94.1%, 95% CI 71.3%-99.9%; specificity 77.9%, 95% CI 74.9%-80.7%).

Conclusion: CV dynamics are determined largely by the extent of remodeling. Rate-dependent CV slowing sites are predominantly confined to LVZs (0.2-0.5 mV), and the resultant CV heterogeneity may promote driver formation in AF.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Bipolar voltage; Conduction velocity; Drivers; Structural remodeling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / surgery
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Electrophysiologic Techniques, Cardiac / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology*
  • Heart Conduction System / physiopathology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged