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High-Resolution Signal-Averaged Analysis of Atrial Electromagnetic Characteristics in Patients with Paroxysmal Lone Atrial Fibrillation

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Background: Abnormalities in the electromagnetic signal of the atria during sinus rhythm could serve as markers of triggering foci or substrate for atrial fibrillation (AF). We examined atrial electrophysiologic properties noninvasively by using magnetocardiographic mapping (MCG) in patients with paroxysmal lone AF to find whether any difference exists between those who have frequent triggers of AF and who don't.

Methods: MCG was recorded over anterior chest during sinus rhythm in 80 patients with paroxysmal lone AF (44 ± 12 years, 61 males) and 80 matched controls. Atrial wave duration (Pd) and root mean square amplitudes of the last 40 ms (RMS40) of the averaged filtered atrial complex were determined automatically. Patients expressing atrial arrhythmias triggering AF episodes were classified as focal AF.

Results: The Pd was 109 ms in patients and 104 ms in controls (P = 0.007). In focal AF (72%) the Pd was slightly prolonged and its proportion of the PR interval was larger, but RMS40 was normal compared to controls. In other patients, the Pd was close to controls, but the RMS40 was reduced (59 ± 17 vs74 ± 36 fT, P = 0.006). Pd and atrial RMS amplitudes were unrelated to duration of AF history or frequency of recurrences.

Conclusion: Clinical subclasses of lone AF seem to possess distinct signal profiles of atrial depolarization. Differences in electrophysiological properties between these subclasses may reflect pathogenetic variation and could have implications on diagnostics and therapy.

Ann Noninvasive Electrocardiol 2008;13(4):378–385
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Keywords: atrial fibrillation; magnetocardiography; signal analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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