Procainamide-induced changes in reentrant ventricular tachycardia with special reference to the tachycardia-interrupting critical paced cycle length during transient entrainment with rapid pacing

Jpn Heart J. 1994 Sep;35(5):611-23. doi: 10.1536/ihj.35.611.


With rapid ventricular pacing, sustained ventricular tachycardia (VT) is often entrained and interrupted at a critical paced cycle length. In this paper, the possible mechanism and determinant of the critical cycle length interrupting VT are addressed. Sixteen consecutive patients underwent rapid ventricular pacing in 18 morphologically distinct sustained VTs before and after procainamide. The VT morphology was identical before and after the drug. The VT origin was determined by endocardial mapping as the earliest site of activation of VT and an electrode catheter was located at the site. Rapid pacing was performed to entrain VT and repeated in 10 msec decrements of cycle length until VT was interrupted at a critical paced cycle length which was defined as the block cycle length. The effective refractory period was measured at the pacing site. The paced QRS duration and the local conduction time were measured and used as indices of conduction time in the normal myocardium. VT was entrained and interrupted in all patients. At the block cycle length, initial constant fusion was replaced abruptly by the fully paced QRS complex. At the same time, the local electrogram at the site of VT origin showed changes in the morphology and the timing of activation which were identical to those of the fully paced beat. This loss of fusion and the changes in the local electrogram were considered to be a result of orthodromic block and the block cycle length was assumed to represent the cycle length at which 1:1 conduction fails in the area of slow conduction. After procainamide, both the VT cycle length and the block cycle length were prolonged to a similar degree (p < 0.001) but the relative degree of change varied from patient to patient. The paced QRS duration and the conduction time were prolonged by procainamide but in smaller degrees than the cycle length of VT or the block cycle length (p < 0.02-01). The effective refractory period at the pacing site and the QT interval showed small changes after procainamide. The postrepolarization refractoriness rather than the duration of action potential can be responsible for the procainamide-induced prolongation of the block cycle length, and the block cycle length might be used as a new index to characterize the electrophysiologic property of the VT circuit and also the action of antiarrhythmic drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial*
  • Coronary Disease / complications
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Heart Block / physiopathology
  • Heart Conduction System / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Procainamide / pharmacology*
  • Refractory Period, Electrophysiological / drug effects
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / physiopathology*
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / therapy


  • Procainamide