Epicardial activation and repolarisation sequences were investigated in patients with upright or inverted T waves in left ventricular leads of the surface electrocardiogram. Fifteen patients were studied: 10 were undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (upright T waves) and five aortic valve replacement (four patients with T inversion). Monophasic action potentials were recorded intraoperatively from eight to 10 left ventricular sites in each patient. In patients with upright T waves there was an inverse relation between the duration of the monophasic action potential and the activation time (mean slope -1.44). As a consequence, activation and repolarisation proceeded in opposite directions. Dispersion of repolarisation time (14 ms) was less than dispersion of activation time (23 ms). In patients with T wave inversion caused by aortic stenosis there was no relation between the duration of action potential and activation time; the repolarisation sequence resembled the activation sequence, and the dispersion of repolarisation time was greater than the dispersion of activation time (31 and 26 ms respectively). These results show that there are epicardial repolarisation gradients in man and that these are related to the configuration of the T wave. In patients with upright T waves an inverse relation between the duration of the action potential and the activation time reduces the dispersion of the repolarisation time. When the T wave was inverted this relation was no longer found and the dispersion of repolarisation increased.
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