Vulnerability of rabbit atrium to reentry by hypoxia. Role of inhomogeneity in conduction and wavelength

W. J.E.P. Lammers, C. Kirchhof, F. I.M. Bonke, M. A. Allessie

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64 Citations (Scopus)


In isolated superfused left atria of the rabbit, the inducibility of tachyarrhythmias by single early premature stimuli was highly increased by hypoxia. High-resolution mapping showed that these arrhythmias were caused by circus movement around a functional arc of conduction block (leading circle reentry). To determine the electrophysiological changes by hypoxia responsible for the higher vulnerability to intra-atrial reentry, the wavelength of the atrial impulse and spatial inhomogeneities in refractory periods and local conduction delays were measured. Hypoxia caused a transient increase in refractory periods during the first 10-15 min of hypoxia. After this period, refractory periods shortened again to values slightly lower than during control. During the whole period of hypoxia, local differences in refractory periods were enlarged. Conduction velocity was significantly depressed by hypoxia. As a result, the wavelength of the atrial impulse gradually shortened during hypoxia to ~80% of control. Inhomogeneity in conduction was quantified by phase maps in which the maximal local delays in conduction are plotted. Hypoxia caused a marked increase in inhomogeneity in conduction both during slow rhythm (inhomogeneity index increased from 2.3 to 3.4) and premature activation (from 3.1 to 4.7). We conclude that the higher vulnerability of the atrium for reentrant arrhythmias by hypoxia is based on a combination of a moderate shortening of the wavelength and an increase in inhomogeneity in conduction of premature wavefronts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H47-H55
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1 31-1
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Phase maps
  • Spatial dispersion in refractory period

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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