Introduction: Acute myocardial ischemia occurs when coronary perfusion to the heart is inadequate, which can perturb the highly organized electrical activation of the heart and can result in adverse cardiac events including sudden cardiac death. Ischemia is known to influence the ST and repolarization phases of the ECG, but it also has a marked effect on propagation (QRS); however, studies investigating propagation during ischemia have been limited.
Methods: We estimated conduction velocity (CV) and ischemic stress prior to and throughout 20 episodes of experimentally induced ischemia in order to quantify the progression and correlation of volumetric conduction changes during ischemia. To estimate volumetric CV, we 1) reconstructed the activation wavefront; 2) calculated the elementwise gradient to approximate propagation direction; and 3) estimated conduction speed (CS) with an inverse-gradient technique.
Results: We found that acute ischemia induces significant conduction slowing, reducing the global median speed by 20 cm/s. We observed a biphasic response in CS (acceleration then deceleration) early in some ischemic episodes. Furthermore, we noted a high temporal correlation between ST-segment changes and CS slowing; however, when comparing these changes over space, we found only moderate correlation (corr. = 0.60).
Discussion: This study is the first to report volumetric CS changes (acceleration and slowing) during episodes of acute ischemia in the whole heart. We showed that while CS changes progress in a similar time course to ischemic stress (measured by ST-segment shifts), the spatial overlap is complex and variable, showing extreme conduction slowing both in and around regions experiencing severe ischemia.
Keywords: Acute ischemia; Biphasic conduction velocity; Volumetric conduction velocity; Wave refraction.
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