Objectives: We tested the ability of dual-site right atrial pacing to prevent atrial fibrillation (AF) or atrial flutter induced by single-site atrial pacing and correlated its efficacy with clinical patient characteristics, atrial activation times and refractory periods.
Background: Prevention of recurrent AF with long-term dual-site right atrial pacing has been demonstrated in our previous studies. However, the mechanism of antiarrhythmic benefit is unclear.
Methods: Using standard electrophysiologic methods, baseline electrocardiographic and electrophysiologic measurements (mean +/- SD) were obtained. Programmed atrial stimulation was performed for AF or atrial flutter induction. Atrial pacing was performed at two drive cycle lengths (600 and 400 ms) and followed by one to three atrial extrastimuli at one to four pacing sites in the right atrium. In patients with inducible AF or atrial flutter, reinduction was then attempted during a dual-site atrial pacing drive train. This was achieved by simultaneously pacing at the high right atrium and coronary sinus ostium at an identical rate to the baseline stimulation, with the atrial extrastimuli being delivered at the pacing site responsible for the initial AF episode initiation.
Results: Twenty patients (10 men, 10 women, mean [+/- SD] age 64 +/- 16 years) with symptomatic AF (n = 10) or atrial flutter (n = 10) were studied. There was a significant abbreviation of the P wave duration to 103 +/- 17 ms with dual-site pacing compared with sinus rhythm (120 +/- 12 ms, p = 0.005) and high right atrial pacing (121 +/- 17 ms, p = 0.005). This was also associated with a characteristic change in P wave configuration with an inferior and leftward axis shift. The effective refractory period at the high right atrium remained unchanged with dual-site atrial pacing compared with single-site high right atrial pacing. Sixteen patients had inducible AF or atrial flutter and could be tested after dual-site atrial pacing. The induced atrial tachyarrhythmia was suppressed in nine patients (56%), who had either induced AF (n = 5) or atrial flutter (n = 4). The difference in the effective refractory period between the high right atrium and the coronary sinus ostium pacing sites was significantly greater (33 +/- 12 ms) in patients with suppression of atrial tachyarrhythmia with dual-site atrial pacing compared with patients without suppression (15 +/- 13 ms, p = 0.001). P wave abbreviation did not correlate with arrhythmia suppression. There was no correlation between suppression of inducible AF or atrial flutter and demographic or clinical patient characteristics.
Conclusions: Dual-site right atrial pacing from the high right atrium and coronary sinus ostium can suppress inducible AF or atrial flutter elicited after single-site high right atrial pacing in selected patients. Acute suppression is more likely in patients with greater dispersion of right atrial refractoriness between these two sites.