Noninvasive Assessment of Atrioventricular Nodal Function: Effect of Rate-Control Drugs during Atrial Fibrillation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: During atrial fibrillation (AF), conventional electrophysiological techniques for assessment of refractory period or conduction velocity of the atrioventricular (AV) node cannot be used. We aimed at evaluating changes in AV nodal properties during administration of tecadenoson and esmolol using a novel ECG-based method. Methods: Fourteen patients (age 58 +/- 8 years, 10 men) with AF were randomly assigned to either 75 or 300 mu g intravenous tecadenoson. After tecadenoson wash-out, patients received esmolol continuously (100 mu g/kg per min for 10 mins, then 50 mu g/kg per min for 50 mins). Atrial fibrillatory rate (AFR) and heart rate (HR) were assessed in 15-min segments. Using the novel method, we assessed the absolute refractory periods of the slow and fast pathways (aRPs and aRPf) of the AV node to produce an estimate of the functional refractory period. Results: During esmolol infusion, AFR and HR were significantly decreased and the absolute refractory period was significantly prolonged in both pathways (aRPs: 387 +/- 73 vs 409 +/- 62 ms, P < 0.05; aRPf: 490 +/- 80 vs 529 +/- 58 ms, P < 0.05). During both tecadenoson doses, HR decreased significantly and AFR was unchanged. Both aRPs and aRPf were prolonged for a 75 mu g dose (aRPs: 322 +/- 97 vs 476 +/- 75 ms, P < 0.05; aRPf: 456 +/- 102 vs 512 +/- 55 ms, P < 0.05) whereas a trend toward prolongation was observed for a 300 mu g dose. Conclusions: The estimated parameters reflect expected changes in AV nodal properties, i.e., slower conduction through the AV node for tecadenoson and prolongation of the AV node refractory period for esmolol. Thus, the proposed approach may be used to assess drug effects on the AV node in AF patients.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems


  • atrioventricular node, atrial fibrillation, functional refractory, period, tecadenoson, esmolol
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-541
JournalAnnals of Noninvasive Electrocardiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch