In this study we investigated the response of the isolated rabbit sinus node to ectopic atrial premature beats elicited late in the atrial cycle. In three experiments the response of at least 45 different fibers of the sinus node was recorded, whereas, in other experiments, investigation was less extensive. In this way the spread of activation of the total pacemaker area could be mapped accurately both during spontaneous beating and the induction of ectopic atrial beats of different degrees of prematurity. We found that: The conduction of an impulse from the dominant pacemaker area to the atrium during spontaneous rhythm (antegrade conduction) is slower than the conduction of an ectopic atrial impulse towards the center of the sinus node (retrograde conduction). The action potential of the dominant pacemaker fibers in the sinus node is shortened because of premature activation caused by an ectopic impulse from the atrium. Late premature beats had no effect on diastolic depolarization. If the retrograde activation wave did not reach the area of the dominant pacemaker before the spontaneous discharge of these fibers, there was electrotonic influence demonstrable over a distance of about 0.5 mm. Comparison of the true sinoatrial conduction time with the estimated sinoatrial conduction calculated indirectly from the length of the postextrasystolic atrial cycle revealed that, in the isolated rabbit heart, the calculated value is a serious underestimation of the true antegrade sinoatrial conduction time.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine