Patients being permanently paced for symptomatic AV block were studied by overdrive suppression of the QRS-inhibited pacemaker, in order to observe the underlying heart rhythm. The chest wall stimulation method was used. In complete AV block the escape rhythm recovery time proved highly reproducible on repeated testing on the same day, and in many patients remained so over months or years. Occasionally, a doubling of the escape rhythm recovery time was seen, suggesting initial exit block of the escape focus. Resetting of the escape rhythm usually followed an exponential curve until stabilisation after about 3 minutes. An early escape rhythm with a recovery time of less than 4 seconds was found on every occasion in 21 of 58 patients with complete AV block, and inconstantly in 23 more; in 14 it was never observed. Accidental pacing failure was seen in 15 patients. The overdrive suppression test was helpful in selecting pacemaker dependent patients.
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