Cardiac refractory periods are routinely measured during electrophysiologic testing. Informal observations suggested that the effective refractory period lengthened with a prolongation of the time in sinus rhythm (basic cycle length time) between successive runs of drive stimuli (S1S1s). If this were true, failure to control the basic cycle length time could affect the results and interpretation of electrophysiologic testing. To study this phenomenon, the effective refractory period was studied in 20 patients during sinus rhythm and two ventricular paced rates with up to three extrastimuli, while varying the basic cycle length time from 2 to 3, to 10 to 20 s. With each of the stimulation sequences used, the effective refractory period lengthened as the basic cycle length time increased (“basic cycle length time-effective refractory period effect”). The effect was most pronounced when extrastimuli were used during the two ventricular paced rates. As the basic cycle length time increased from 2 to 3 to 20 s, the mean effective refractory period determined during sinus rhythm increased from 296 to 300 ms; with the first ventricular paced rate, the effective refractory period increased from 259 to 272 ms (p < 0.0003) and with the second ventricular paced rate, the effective refractory period increased from 250 to 263 ms (p < 0.01). The basic cycle length time-effective refractory period effect became more pronounced as the number of extrastimuli increased. With the second ventricular paced rate, as basic cycle length was increased from 2 to 3 to 20 s, the mean prolongation in the cumulative effective refractory period (SI to final extrastimulus) as the number of extrastimuli increased from 1 to 2 to 3, was 13 (p < 0.01), 42 (p < 0.0003) and 82 ms (p < 0.001), respectively. Results were confirmed in 17 instances by redetermining the effective refractory period at the 2 to 3 s basic cycle length time after the final 20 s basic cycle length time determination, and demonstrating that it was similar to the effective refractory period after the initial 2 to 3 s basic cycle length time. No further prolongation of the effective refractory period could be demonstrated by increasing basic cycle length time from 20 to 60 s, and no significant effect of medications on the basic cycle length time-effective refractory period effect could be demonstrated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine