Background and aims: High percentages of atrial pacing have been associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation. This study is aimed at evaluating whether atrial pacing minimization in patients with sinus node dysfunction reduces the incidence of atrial fibrillation.
Methods: In a nationwide, randomized controlled trial, 540 patients with sinus node dysfunction and an indication for first pacemaker implantation were assigned to pacing programmed to a base rate of 60 bpm and rate-adaptive pacing (DDDR-60) or pacing programmed to a base rate of 40 bpm without rate-adaptive pacing (DDD-40). Patients were followed on remote monitoring for 2 years. The primary endpoint was time to first episode of atrial fibrillation longer than 6 min. Secondary endpoints included longer episodes of atrial fibrillation, and the safety endpoint comprised a composite of syncope or presyncope.
Results: The median percentage of atrial pacing was 1% in patients assigned to DDD-40 and 49% in patients assigned to DDDR-60. The primary endpoint occurred in 124 patients (46%) in each treatment group (hazard ratio [HR] 0.97, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.76-1.25, P = .83). There were no between-group differences in atrial fibrillation exceeding 6 or 24 h, persistent atrial fibrillation, or cardioversions for atrial fibrillation. The incidence of syncope or presyncope was higher in patients assigned to DDD-40 (HR 1.71, 95% CI 1.13-2.59, P = .01).
Conclusions: Atrial pacing minimization in patients with sinus node dysfunction does not reduce the incidence of atrial fibrillation. Programming a base rate of 40 bpm without rate-adaptive pacing is associated with an increased risk of syncope or presyncope.
Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; Atrial pacing; Pacemaker; Quality of life; Sinus node disease; Syncope.
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology.