Using the isolated perfused rat heart with transient (10 min) regional ischaemia induced by coronary artery ligation, we have shown that slow heart rate can dramatically reduce the vulnerability of the myocardium to reperfusion induced ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. In the heart rate range of 200-400 beats·min-1, slower heart rates exerted a frequency dependent protective effect against reperfusion induced arrhythmias. At the optimal rate of 200 beats·min-1, the incidence of total ventricular fibrillation (irreversible plus reversible) and ventricular tachycardia fell to 33% and 50% of their control values (100%). The anti-arrhythmic effect was achieved with only a minor (<20%) effect on coronary flow. To ascertain whether or not slow heart rate achieved an absolute reduction in vulnerability to arrhythmias irrespective of the duration of ischaemia, hearts were also subjected to 5, 10, 20, 30 or 40 min of ischaemia followed by 30 min of reperfusion with and without pacing at 200 beats·min-1. A bellshaped time-response profile was obtained in both groups. In unpaced controls (n=12) this gave a maximal vulnerability to arrhythmias after 10 min of ischaemia. In the paced hearts (n=12) the curve was shifted to the right, with a peak vulnerability at 20 min. These results show that the action of pacing is to exert a delaying effect which extends the duration of ischaemia that can be tolerated before the heart becomes vulnerable to reperfusion induced arrhythmias. Heart rate can have a substantial effect on reperfusion induced arrhythmias and should be considered when making therapeutic interventions and risk assessments in this setting.
- Heart rate
- Rat heart
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)