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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Electrophysiological effects of flecainide on anisotropic conduction and reentry in infarcted canine hearts.

BACKGROUND: The class IC antiarrhythmic drug flecainide has been shown to be ineffective for the treatment of ventricular arrhythmias in some patients who have had a prior myocardial infarction and sometimes even provoke arrhythmias (proarrhythmic effect). Since some ventricular tachycardias may be caused by anisotropic reentry, we determined the effects of flecainide on this mechanism for reentry in infarcted canine hearts in order to determine possible causes for its clinical effects. METHODS AND RESULTS: The effects of flecainide were determined on ventricular tachycardia induced by programmed electrical stimulation in dogs with healing myocardial infarction 4 days after coronary artery occlusion. Activation in the reentrant circuits causing tachycardia was mapped with a 196-channel computerized mapping system. We found that flecainide converted inducible unsustained ventricular tachycardia to inducible sustained ventricular tachycardia by modifying conduction in the reentrant circuit. In general, by slowing conduction, the reentrant wave front did not block after flecainide, leading to perpetuation of reentrant excitation. When sustained ventricular tachycardia could be induced before the drug, flecainide prolonged the coupling interval of premature impulses necessary to induce tachycardia by lengthening the line of block and slowing conduction around it. Flecainide also slowed the rate of the tachycardia but did not terminate it. The anisotropic reentrant circuits were modified so that the central common pathway of "figure-of-eight" circuits was narrowed and lengthened due to extension of the lines of block that bounded the pathways. Extension of the lines of block resulted from depression of conduction in the direction transverse to the long axis of the myocardial fiber bundles caused by flecainide. Flecainide also slowed conduction in the longitudinal direction in part of the circuits. The depressant effects of flecainide on both longitudinal and transverse anisotropic conduction were quantified by pacing from the center of the electrode array and it was found, contrary to predictions, that transverse conduction was depressed as much as longitudinal conduction. CONCLUSIONS: Flecainide slows conduction in both the longitudinal and transverse direction relative to the orientation of the myocardial fibers. This enables sustained reentry to occur more easily. Flecainide does not cause conduction block in crucial regions of reentrant circuits (central common pathway) and therefore does not prevent reentrant tachycardia in healing infarcts.[1]


  1. Electrophysiological effects of flecainide on anisotropic conduction and reentry in infarcted canine hearts. Coromilas, J., Saltman, A.E., Waldecker, B., Dillon, S.M., Wit, A.L. Circulation (1995) [Pubmed]
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