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Posts Tagged ‘pace’

  • It is only rarely a journal of International caliber is published from India . IJEP is one such journal.
  • Cutting edge articles on Electrophysiological science  break here !
  • This is an online journal . No print issues . Enjoy, it is free !

Here is the  Link

Just sample an article  : A great review about cardiac arrhythmias in congenital heart diseases , Must read by  all cardiologists    http://www.ipej.org/0906/khairy.htm

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Acute coronary syndrome is the commonest cardiac emergency. STEMI and NSTEMI are the two clinical limbs of ACS. Generally they have distinct clinical, ECG, angiographic features.(Ofcourse,  with some degree of overlap) . It is  a  mystery , both clinical presentations differ so much inspite of the common denominator  , namely ,  an injured plaque with add on thrombus  within the coronary artery.

The mystery is since  decoded , the primary difference between these two entities is STEMI the occlusion occurs sudden and complete and in NSTEMI it occurs slow and incomplete

In STEMI ,  most of the clinical features and , need for emergent treatment , response to thrombolysis /PCI are dictated by the time dependent risk to myocardial loss .

Cardiac arrhythmias in ACS

It is a  much published  factoid   for  many decades  only one third of STEMI patients  reach the hospital alive ! The reason being , STEMI  is very much prone for primary VF.

Contrary  to this ,  almost all patients with NSTEMI reach the hospital alive ! How ?

Both are ACS, if ischemia is a powerful trigger for dangerous ventricular  arrhythmia’s ,  NSTEMI should also behave  similarly .

So what protects against arrhythmias in NSTEMI ?

  • We realise ,  by observational experience (Not EBM !)  It is the suddenness and totality of ischemia that trigger dangerous form of arrhythmia  .
  • Further, a balanced  ischemia in two contralateral segments (or global  ischemia) some how protects against development of ventricular  fibrillation .This may be due to preservation  of  electrical homogeneity  , and the spherical VT spiral waves are not sustainable.
  • In contrast , STEMI has a sudden  focal , ischemic  zone that initiates the VT and    ischemia free  contralateral segment  welcoming  and sustaining the  reentrant wavelet.
  • The observation of primarily single vessel disese in STEMI and multivessel disease in NSTEMI also give credence to this concept.
  • Further , ischemic preconditioning can exert an important anti arrhythmic  effect in NSTEMI as  patients with unstable angina have   slow, repetitive episodes of ischemia prior to the index event .
  • Post MI scar mediated VT/VF is independent of degree of overall ischemia
  • It is also established ,  a sub group of  STEMI pateints  who  had  preinfarction angina(  ie . a brief  period of UA/NSTEMI) have very low risk of SCD  supporting the concept of sensitising the myocardium against ventricular arrhythmias.

Final message

Even though , there is a convincing concept  of   ischemia induced  cardiac arrhythmia in literature , in real patients it is very difficult to link the two.

UA/NSTEMI is the most common  acute ischemic event but the incidence of VT/VF here,  is far less than one would expect.

In ACS , focal , total  ischemia is more likely to precipitate a VT/VF than multifocal and global ischemia.

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Ventricular fibrillation is invariably fatal if not treated . When can atrial fibrillation be fatal ? 

                                     Atrial fibrillation is relatively a benign arrhythmia especially when it occurs in isolation with  structurally normal heart.This is sometimes referred to lone atrial fibrillation . Even otherwise, atrial fibrillation is rarely fatal except in few situations.But AF commonly destabilises the patient  who have baseline valvular or myocardial disease.(Post MI, dilated cardiomyopathy etc)

There are few situations where AF can be life threatening

  • In patients  with WPW syndrome*where , AF  enters into a electrical short  circuit , downhill to enter the ventricle and make it fire at the same rate as that of atria . ( ie 400-600) and result in ventricular  fibrillation.Note , even here it is the VF that kills  not , AF per se.
  • AF in acute MI  often precipitates LVF , but rarely fatal.
  • In patients with critical aortic stenosis, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, sudden onset of AF can result in acute cardiac failure.
  • AF is often a terminal event in primary pulmonary hypertension

While atrial fibrillation is  less likely to cause  death , it is  a highly morbid arrhythmia .It is one of important cause of stroke in elderly as well as young !

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Ventricular tachycardia is considered as one of the most  dangerous  cardiac arrhythmia .Rather , it is the label  VT  that spreads more  fear than the arrhythmia itself. It is a fact many patients with VT walk into hospital , still  VT will always be a sinister arrhythmia as long as it carries a risk of degenerating into ventricular fibrillation.

What determines hemodynamic stability in VT ?

  • Origin and location of VT
  • The ventricular rate
  • Presence or absence of AV dissociation
  • Impact on mitral inflow pattern
  • Associated left ventricular dysfunction or valvular heart disease.
  • VT in the setting of acute coronary syndrome.(Ischemic VT)
  • Inappropriate drug selection

Origin and location

VTs originating high up in the ventricle( High septal VT,Proximal VTs) have more organised ventricular contraction  and they are more stable.Distal VT  originating  in the myocardium away from the conducting system has chaotic myocyte to myocyte conduction.These are very unstable.

The term fascicular VT is nothing but VTs originating  in the His bundle and it’s branches( Can also be termed Septal VT ).These VTs are also stable and some of them respond well to calcium blockers indicating that they are very close to the AV junction and carry the properties of junctional tachycardia. QRS width gives  a rough estimate about the location of VT. Narrower the VT higher it’s origin.( But remember even in VT ,  qrs can further widen on it’s way downhill !)

LV dysfunction.

This is probably the most important determinant of the outcome in VT. Patients with severe LV dysfunction (EF <30%) fare badly .Hence the land mark concepts from MADIT 1& 2 demanded ICDs in these patients.The most common clinical setting is  dilated cardiomyopathy.SomE of them have bundle branch re entry(BBR).This particular  VT can be stable for many  hours.

Ventricular rate.

Usually VT has a rate between 120-200.Higher the rate of VT more the chances of instability .This rule is also not always true as fascicular VT can be well tolerated at high rates.So location of VT focus  and LV dysfunction usually over rides the impact  of ventricular rate.

Mitral inflow pattern

Proper left ventricular filling is the key to hemodynamic stability in VT. In proximal, septal,fascicular, LVOT VTs doppler studies  suggest (ACC /AHA Type C evidence : Personal observations in CCU during VT) near normal preservation of  bi modal filling of mitral valve inflow.In ischemic myocardial VT  the mitral inflow profile is critically affected . There is no distinctive forward filling was observed .In fact  at rapid rates a short pulsatile MR jets are noted instead.

Associated valvular diseases

It is obvious,  aortic  and mitral valve disorders can aggravate the hemodyanmic instability.

Final message

The clinical behavior of  ventricular tachycardia is widely variable and dependent on multiple factors.

Associated LV dysfunction and  structural heart disease ultimately determine the outcome.

 

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                              Cardioversion with DC shock  offers immediate cure in many of the dangerous ventricular and atrial tachycardias.  It is often  taught ,  any hemodynamically unstable tachycardia  refractory to  medical therapy respond to electrical cardioversion.  One should also  remember electricity is in fact be called  as a drug !  and it should be delivered in proper form and dose. Here it is the paddle size, paddle position and the axis of current flow all are important. Now we have bi phasic currents for better efficacy.

                             While it is true, most of cardiac arrhythmias respond to shock,  there are few which do not respond or respond very transiently.There are few arrhythmias  in which ,DC shock is not only ineffective but may precipitate a ventricular  fibrillation.

                            Generally arrhythmias of reentrant etiology respond well to DC shock were interuption of  electrical circuit by external current is easily possible. In arrhythmia’s of enhanced automaticity ,  and ectopic tachycardia  it is difficult  to extinguish  the tachycardia focus with DC shock .

Arrhythmias where DC shock is not going to work are

A. Mutifocal atrial tachycardia(MAT)

B. Digoxin induced arrhythmias.Patients who are on digoxin,  has  enhanced ventricular  automaticity.These patients if they  get a DC shock will unmask the  ectopic foci.

C. In elderly with atrial fibrillation and sinus node dysfunction it may be dangerous to shock them with out temporary pacing support as sinus node goes for prolonged sleep mode.

D.In electrical storm with VT ,  if more than three shocks are required within a minute,  the VT will most often going to be permanent and the  electrical therapy can be termed as a failure. These patients will require intensive pharmacological management( Including magnesium, bretyllium etc)

E. And finally , sinus tachycardia (whatever the rate)  is an absolute contraindication for DC shock.

 Verapmil is often effective in MAT  but correction of hypoxia and acidosis may be critical.For digoxin induced arrhythmias phenytoin may be tried.

What to do when the DC shock fails?

  • It will be a  tricky situation and one wonder what to do next when the so called  universal antidote for cardiac arrhythmia fails !
  • Cellular internal millieu  is altered  by hypoxia and acidosis .It may prevent the  effectiveness of cardioversion.So try to correct them .
  • Over dirve atrial  pacing  is one option for automatic tachycardia.
  • And now ablation of arrhythmic focus is possible with radio frequency waves  in some of these patients.( Diffiuclt as an emergency procedure)

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