Cholinergic agonists and vagal stimulation potentiate the inducibility of atrial fibrillation. To describe the activation patterns and determine the mechanisms that sustain cholinergic fibrillation, tachyanrhythmias were induced with a single extrastimulus in the isolated Krebs-Henseleit-perfused canine right atrium (n=11) at increasing concentrations of acetylcholine (from 10-7.5 to 10-4.5 M). Bipolar electrograms were recorded from 250 epicardial sites simultaneously during control conditions and during extrastimulation (S1S1, 300 msec; S1S2, effective refractory period+5 msec) with and without acetylcholine. Activation sequence maps were constructed from each recording. Without acetylcholine, no tachyarrhythmias were induced. With increasing concentrations of acetylcholine, the refractory period decreased, and nonsustained (<2 seconds) rapid repetitive responses were induced. At higher concentrations, a sustained (>2-minute) fibrillation was induced. Activation sequence maps revealed that the rapid repetitive responses were characterized by multiple reentrant circuits. The number of circuits and wavelets increased in a dose-dependent fashion. However, unexpectedly, this trend did not continue when the tachyarrhythmia became sustained. Instead, the reentry tended to stabilize to a small, single, relatively stable reentrant circuit. In conclusion, the data suggest that, in this model, below a critical level of refractory period (<95 msec) atrial reentrant circuits, unassociated with anatomic obstacles, can become stable and dominate activation.
- Atrial fibrillation
- Multiple wavelet hypothesis
- Reentrant tachyarrhythmias
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine