Vol 25, No 6 (2018)
Original articles — Clinical cardiology
Published online: 2017-12-28

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Vagal stimulation after acute coronary occlusion: The heart rate matters

Waheed Manati1, Julien Pineau2, Rosa Doñate Puertas1, Elodie Morel2, Timour Quadiri3, Bernard Bui-Xuan3, Philippe Chevalier21
Pubmed: 29297176
Cardiol J 2018;25(6):709-713.


Background: There is a well documented causal link between autonomic imbalance and cardiac elec­trical instability. However, the mechanisms underlying the antiarrhythmic effect of vagal stimulation are poorly understood. The vagal antiarrhythmic effect might be modulated by a decrease in heart rate.

Methods: The proximal anterior interventricular artery was occluded in 16 pigs by clamping under general anaesthesia. Group 1: heart rates remained spontaneous (n = 6; 12 occlusions); Group 2: heart rates were fixed at 190 bpm with atrial electrical stimulation (n = 10; 20 occlusions). Each pig received two occlusions, 30 min apart, one without and one with vagal stimulation (10 Hz, 2 ms, 5–20 mA). The antiarrhythmic effect of vagal activation was defined as the time to the appearance of ventricular fibrillation (VF) after occlusion.

Results: In Group 1, vagal stimulation triggered a significant decrease in basal heart rate (132 ± 4 vs. 110 ± 17 bpm, p < 0.05), and delayed the time to VF after coronary occlusion (1102 ± 85 vs. 925 ± ± 41 s, p < 0.05). In Group 2, vagal stimulation did not modify the time to VF (103 ± 39 vs. 91 ± 20 s). Analyses revealed that heart rate and the time to VF were positively linearly related.

Conclusions: Maintaining a constant heart rate with atrial electrical stimulation in pigs prevented vagal stimulation from modifying the time to VF after acute coronary occlusion.

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