Posts Tagged ‘ventricular premature depolarisation’

What will be the pulse rate in a patient who has ventricular bigeminy in ECG with a heart rate of 90 ( 45 sinus beats 45 VPDS/minute ) ?

A.Exactly Same as HR , ie 90/mt

 B.Exactly half of HR , ie  45/mt

C.Can be anything between 45 to 90/mt

D.Any of the above can be true

 The  answer is D . 

I have  noted  ,this simple question in cardiology resident examinations cause great anxiety among students .

Why is it difficult to arrive at an easy answer to this question ?

Traditionally , ventricular ectopic beat were also called extrasystole , implying every ectopic beat shall produce a peripheral pulse .Since ,  we learnt this is not true , we started refering them as VPDs.(Simple ventricular depolarisation which may or may not have a mechanical activity ) So , in a patient whose alternate beat is a VPD  , things become little complicated.

What determines a VPD to acquire  mechanical  energy  or simply  remain as an  electrical event ?

  •  Timing of the VPD* .
  • LV residual volume(LVEDV ) at the onset of  VPD
  • Force of contractility of LV( Of course ,  it is directly related to LVEDV)
  • Temporal relation to  aortic valve opening**

If  the VPD is too early or too late it can not have a mechanical activity . It should be optimally timed midway between two sinus beat to have a good mechnically active VPD. Some refer this as an interpolated VPD .Here, the VPD  becomes a  true extra systole for that individual. So , in patient with ventricualr bigeminy in ECG the pulse rate is usually half , can be same as HR when the coupling interval is optimal or it can be totally irregular as someof the  VPDS gain a mechanical activity and some do not (as often occurs multifocal VPDs. )

* Among the above  four factors timing of the VPDS is the most crucial as it can influence all the other three factors.

** Whatever be the timing or force of contraction aortic valve should be opened to generate a pulse wave. If for some reason this does not happen  there can be intermittent mechanial activity what  we refer to as pulse deficit .

Read a related phenomenon:  Ventricular  paired pacing

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Ectopic beats or premature depolarisations are the commonest  cardiac arrhythmia encountered . Human heart , is a  non stop  electro mechanical organ ,  and it is not surprising   ectopic beats are so common  and can literally originate  from every cell of heart. But , generally it   emanates  primarily from  the special conducting cells . At times  ,  even  other cells (Myocytes, interstitial cells )  can generate abnormal electrical potential.These ectopic electrical potentials  can be compared  to  electrical load shedding when there is excess electrical strain .

Vast  majority of ectopic are benign  in human population. When this occurs ,  in the milieu of underlying heart disease or during ischemic  episodes they become clinically important and initiate a sustained arrhythmia.

Classically and traditionally ectopic beats are described in the

A.Ventricle :      Ventricular premature beats, (VPD)

B.Atrium:             Atrial premature beats(APD)

C.AV junction : Junctional premature beats.(JPD)

If you note , one important structure is missing from the list.

Yes , it is  SA node.  Can it result in premature depolarisation ?

When do you suspect a SPD(Sinus premature depolarisation)

  • It manifests a  an sudden unexpected , sinus beat exactly as the previous sinus beat. Followed by a pause.
  • The P wave morphology exactly is similar to prior p wave.
  • Many times we miss this entity as we tend to over  diagnose APD than SPD.
  • SPDs tend to occur in bigeminy rhythm.

Differential diagnosis

  • Sinus arrhythmia and pause
  • APD
  • SA node echo beats (Part of SA node reentry)
  • SA blocks

How do differentiate  a sinus arrhythmia from sinus premature depolarisation (SPD ) ?

Sinus arrhythmia occurs in a baseline bradycardia environment.

It does not not come as   “on -off ” pattern . It has a gradual onset offset dynamics.

Clinical significance

This is a clinically unimportant arrhythmia* .This  is probably the reason , it is not a popular concept .

*But it can confound in the diagnosis of  , other important rhythm  disorders.it could be a expression of  sinus node dysfunction and a precursor of  inappropriate  sinus tachycardia The significance could be substantial in atrial triggered  based  pace maker rhythm

Final message

When you confront an unexpected , early , sinus beat not accountable to sinus  arrhythmia  or APD

suspect SPD.It is  not rare , it is a  grossly under diagnosed entity.


Sinus premature systole  http://www.chestjournal.org/content/64/1/111.full.pdf?ck=nck

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