Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and often occurs with heart failure (HF) . AF prevalence increases with increasing severity of HF: for instance its prevalence ranges from 5 percent in patients with New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class I HF to 40 percent in patients with NYHA class IV HF . Its presence with HF plays a significant prognostic role and increases morbidity and mortality. Heart Failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) is associated with cardiac arrhythmias . HFrEF is also one of the indications for Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) placement . Therefore, many patients undergoing CRT implantation will concomitantly have HF and AF. As the benefit from CRT in HF patients has been established, the data on patients with both HF and AF is limited, because patients with atrial arrhythmias were excluded from most of the major CRT trials, such as CARE-HF and COMPANION . However, a number of observational studies and small randomized clinical trials suggest a benefit from CRT in AF and HF patients such as a CRT-mediated ejection fraction (EF) increase [6, 7]. Other studies showed a high non-response rate in patients with AF as compared to those in sinus rhythm (SR) . Thus, it is important to determine whether CRT has a beneficial role in these patients to decide on adding an atrial lead at the time of CRT implantation especially in patients with longstanding-persistent AF.In their published study, Ziegelhoeffer et al. investigated the outcomes of CRT placement with an atrial lead in patients with HF and AF. This was done by conducting a retrospective analysis of all patients with AF who received CRT for HF at the Kerckhoff Heart Center since June 2004 and were observed until July 2018- completing a 5-year follow-up. The authors identified 328 patients and divided them into 3 subgroups: paroxysmal (px) AF, persistent (ps) AF, and longstanding-persistent (lp) AF, with all patients receiving the same standard operative management. During the observation period, the authors analyzed the rhythm course of the patients, cardiac parameters (NYHA class, MR, LVEF, left atrial diameter) and performed a subgroup analysis for patients who received an atrial lead. The study showed that all groups had a high rate of sinus rate (SR) conversion and rhythm maintenance at 1 and 5 years. Specifically, the patients who received an atrial lead among the lp AF group were shown to have a stable EF, less pronounced left ventricular end-systolic diameter (LVESD) and left ventricular end diastolic diameter (LVEDD) and lower mitral regurgitation (MR) rates at one year follow-up as compared to the group without atrial lead placement. Moreover, the results of the lp group were similar to the ps-AF group, although the latter had a lower number of participants (n=4) without initial implantation of the atrial lead. The authors attributed the improvement in cardiac function and SR conversion to CRT and the implantation of an additional atrial lead.Although some studies showed that CRT therapy reduced secondary MR in HF [9, 10], this study additionally suggests that CRT with an atrial lead was associated with improved myocardial function and improvement of interventricular conduction delay triggering cardiac remodeling in patients with HF and AF. Although the results showed better cardiac function in the subgroup analysis of the patients with an additional atrial lead, these results were reported as percentages with no level of significance specified, hence statistical significance of the difference in the described parameters (such as LVESD, LVEDD) could not be determined. Further investigation via prospective studies is needed with larger sample size in the future to further support the results of the study especially that it was done in a single center and had a relatively small sample size.References:1. Chung MK, Refaat M, Shen WK, et al. Atrial Fibrillation: JACC Council Perspectives. J Am Coll Cardiol. Apr 2020; 75 (14): 1689-1713.2. Maisel, W.H. and L.W. Stevenson, Atrial fibrillation in heart failure: epidemiology, pathophysiology, and rationale for therapy. Am J Cardiol, 2003. 91 (6a): p. 2d-8d.3. AlJaroudi WA, Refaat MM, Habib RH, et al. Effect of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors and Receptor Blockers on Appropriate Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator Shock: Insights from the GRADE Multicenter Registry. Am J Cardiol Apr 2015; 115 (7): 115(7):924-31.4. Yancy, C.W., et al., 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol, 2013. 62 (16): p. e147-239.5. Cleland, J.G., et al., The effect of cardiac resynchronization on morbidity and mortality in heart failure. N Engl J Med, 2005.352 (15): p. 1539-49.6. Leclercq, C., et al., Comparative effects of permanent biventricular and right-univentricular pacing in heart failure patients with chronic atrial fibrillation. Eur Heart J, 2002. 23 (22): p. 1780-7.7. Upadhyay, G.A., et al., Cardiac resynchronization in patients with atrial fibrillation: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. J Am Coll Cardiol, 2008. 52 (15): p. 1239-46.8. Wilton, S.B., et al., Outcomes of cardiac resynchronization therapy in patients with versus those without atrial fibrillation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Heart Rhythm, 2011. 8 (7): p. 1088-94.9. van Bommel, R.J., et al., Cardiac resynchronization therapy as a therapeutic option in patients with moderate-severe functional mitral regurgitation and high operative risk. Circulation, 2011.124 (8): p. 912-9.10. Breithardt, O.A., et al., Acute effects of cardiac resynchronization therapy on functional mitral regurgitation in advanced systolic heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol, 2003. 41 (5): p. 765-70.
Idiopathic ventricular arrhythmias (VA) is defined as premature ventricular complexes (PVCs) or ventricular tachycardias (VT) that occur in the absence of structural heart disease. Endocardial radiofrequency (RF) ablation is often curative for idiopathic VA. The success of the procedure depends on the ability to localize the abnormal foci accurately. These arrhythmias typical originate from the right ventricular outflow tract (RVOT), specifically from the superior septal aspect, but can also originate from the left ventricular outflow tract (LVOT) and the coronary cusps.1 The QRS electrocardiogram (ECG) characteristics have been helpful in patients with VAs, patient with accessory pathways and patients who have pacemakers.2 VAs originating from the RVOT have typical ECG findings with a left bundle branch block (LBBB) morphology and an inferior axis.3In the current issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, Hisazaki et al. describe five patients with idiopathic VA suggestive of RVOT origin and who required ablation in the left-sided outflow tract (OT) in addition to the initial ablation in the RVOT for cure to be achieved. Patients exhibited monomorphic, LBBB QRS pattern with an inferior axis on ECG, consistent with the morphology of VAs originating from the RVOT. Interestingly, all patients had a common distinct ECG pattern: qs or rs (r ≤ 5 mm) pattern in lead I, Q wave ratio[aVL/aVR]>1, and dominant S-waves in leads V1 and V2. Mapping of the right ventricle demonstrated early local activation time during the VA in the posterior portion of the RVOT, matching the QRS morphology obtained during pacemapping. Despite RF energy delivery to the RV, the VAs recurred shortly after ablation in four patients and had no effect at all in one patient. A change in the QRS morphology was noted on the ECG that had never been observed before the procedure. The new patterns were suggestive of left-sided OT origin: the second VAs exhibited an increase in the Q wave ratio [aVL/aVR] and R wave amplitude in lead V1, decrease in the S wave amplitude in lead V1, and a counterclockwise rotation of the precordial R-wave transition. Early activation of the second VA could not be found in the RVOT, and the earliest activation time after mapping the LV was found to be relatively late. Real-time intracardiac echocardiography and 3D mapping systems were used to determine the location immediately contralateral to the initial ablation site in the RVOT. Energy was then delivered to that site which successfully eliminated the second VA. The authors postulated that the second VAs shared the same origins as the first VAs, and the change in QRS morphology is likely attributed to a change in the exit point or in the pathway from the origin to the exit point. The authors further explained that the VAs originated from an intramural area of the superior basal LV surrounded by the RVOT, LVOT and the transitional zone from the great cardiac vein to the anterior interventricular vein (GCV-AIV).A limitation of this study is that GCV-AIV ablation was not attempted; however, the authors’ approach is safer and was successful in eliminating VA. Another limitation is that left-sided OT mapping was not initially performed. Nevertheless, given the ECG characteristics, local activation time, and mapping, it was appropriate to attempt a RVOT site ablation.Overall, the authors should be commended for their effort to describe in detail patients with idiopathic VAs that required ablation in the left-sided OT following ablation in the RVOT. Although change in QRS morphology after ablation has been previously described, the authors were the first to describe the ECG patterns of these patients.4–7 The results of this study have important clinical implications. First, the authors have demonstrated the importance of anatomical approach from the left-sided OT for cure to be achieved. Second, insight into the location of the origin of the VA may be helpful to physicians managing patients with VAs from the RVOT. Finally, continuous monitoring of the ECG during ablation for a change in QRS morphology should be considered to identify patients who will require further ablation. We have summarized in Table 1 important ECG characteristics indicative VA of specific origins, based on the findings of this study and previous studies in the literature.3,8–15
Pulmonary Vein Isolation (PVI) remains the cornerstone for catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF). Achieving durable PVI safely with Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation (RFCA) has proven challenging until recently, even with the use of Contact Force (CF) sensing catheters and electroanatomical mapping1. Ablation success rates improve markedly, including in persistent AF, when permanent PVI can be achieved1,2, which only underscores the critical role of the Pulmonary Veins (PV) in AF arrhythmogenesis.Historically, the only way to assess PVI durability has been through invasive electrophysiology study, with all its associated risk, inconvenience, and costs. This price appears particularly galling to pay if the PVs are found to be isolated at repeat study, as is now becoming increasingly common3. Multiple randomised studies have failed to show additional benefit from ablating extra-PV structures4,5, and the best outcomes following repeat AF ablation procedures are restricted to those where PV reconnection is identified and treated6. As such, there remains a pressing need for a non-invasive tool that can accurately assess PVI durability, and ideally, the size and location of residual gaps. As Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has increasingly been shown capable of delineating atrial scar, there is much anticipation that it may serve this important purpose7.RFCA and Cryoballoon ablation (CBA) are by far the most common modalities used for PVI, and there is remarkable equivalence in their clinical results8. However, the handling of the two technologies in the catheter laboratory is very different, and ultrahigh density mapping has shown important differences in the number and location of chronic gaps between the two9. The use of MRI in characterizing these differences has not been well described so far.In this issue of the journal, Kurose and colleagues present a small but elegant study10, in which 30 consecutive patients who underwent PVI (18 with CBA, 12 with RFCA) were assessed by LGE-MRI two months later, where lesion width and visual gap(s) around each vein were assessed. The RF applications were delivered using a CF sensing catheter, with a target lesion size index (LSI) of 5, and an inter-lesion distance of <6mm. They found that the mean lesion width on MRI was significantly wider in the CBA group (8.1±2.2 mm) as compared to the RFCA group (6.3±2.2 mm), p=0.032. However, there were more visual gaps seen in the CBA group, especially in the bottom segments of the two inferior veins. In the RFCA group, gaps were seen most often seen in the left posterior segments where the target LSI value could not be achieved because of esopheageal temperature rise. Furthermore, the number of gaps visualised on MRI was linked to freedom from AF at 12 months; receiver operating characteristic curve analysis suggested a cut off value of less than 5 visual gaps per patient as being predictive of a good outcome.The authors deserve to be congratulated for their study, which builds on their previous work where LGE-MRI was used to compare chronic lesions between CBA and RFCA with non-CF sensing catheters11. It is notable that whilst the lesion width in their previous study was also significantly greater in the CBA group than the RFCA group, the mean number of gaps in the RFCA group was higher. This suggests that the modern technique of delivering LSI-guided contiguous RFCA lesions has resulted in a material improvement in PVI durability, something that is borne out in clinical studies too3.Some limitations of the work should be mentioned. Patients were not randomised to RFCA or CBA; rather, patients undergoing CBA were pre-selected with those with left common PV or large PVs excluded. The ablation technique used for CBA was unusual in that the use of RFCA was allowed if PVI could not be achieved after a single 3-minute freeze. This low bar for defining CBA failure led to as many as 3 patients out of 25 being excluded from the study. Many readers will feel that the mean procedural times of 129 minutes and fluoroscopy times of 39 minutes for CBA are much longer than what is the norm today. They may also find the RF powers used in this study unusual; only 30W was used on the anterior wall, and 20-25W on the posterior wall, which was reduced even further if esophageal temperature rise was observed. The field is moving towards using higher power short duration (HPSD) RF applications, and as HPSD lesions have been shown to be wider12, it is possible that the gaps on the posterior wall identified in this study may not have been present had HPSD applications been used. Finally, the definition of visual gap on MRI used in this study, a non-LGE site larger than 4 mm, almost certainly overestimated the number of true gaps. For instance, the authors observed at least one visual gap in each of the 16 segments around the PVs in more than 10% CB patients; this is at odds with data obtained with ultrahigh density mapping9, and also with the good clinical outcomes reported here. Future research should look at correlating these MRI-visualised gaps with actual gaps seen on repeat electrophysiological study, so that the clinical significance of these can be better defined.What can we take away from this study? Firstly, the use of MRI to assess post-ablation scar is now a reality in many labs, allowing assessment of PVI durability to help decide whether or not to offer a repeat procedure to a patient with AF recurrence. Secondly, the evolution of the RFCA technique to include target lesion indices and inter-lesion distance has made RFCA at least as effective as CBA in achieving durable PVI. Finally, this is an area ripe for further research, and we look forward to similarly valuable contributions from Kurose and colleagues in the future.
Multipolar mapping has primarily been studied in complex arrhythmia substrates or re-entrant circuits. Chieng et al. use a Case-Control design to compare multipolar mapping and point-by-point mapping with an ablation catheter for focal atrial and ventricular tachycardias, showing reduced procedure times and earlier electrograms in the multipolar mapping group but no difference in clinical outcomes. It is plausible that faster mapping and better delineation of earliest signals may translate to improved clinical outcomes if studied in a randomized trial in a larger population. Future multipolar mapping systems will guide the operator toward the focus in real-time and may even triangulate the source in three dimensions, giving an estimate of depth within the myocardium or likely focus in the opposite chamber.
There is emerging evidence that a keen understanding of atrial myofiber architecture is paramount to characterizing and treating atrial arrhythmias. Heterogeneity in the three dimensional anatomic structure of the atrium has previously been shown to create distinct endocardial and epicardial activation patterns during tachycardia in a canine model (1). In the clinical setting, the epicardial atrial architecture and its contribution to arrhythmias have been less well explored until recently. There has been a renewed interest in and appreciation of epicardial and interatrial connections, particularly in the treatment of left atrial arrhythmias refractory to traditional endocardial ablation.The vein of Marshall has been postulated to harbor epicardial connections between the coronary sinus (CS) and the left atrium (LA), sustaining peri-mitral flutters refractory to endocardial ablation (2,3). Conduction across the intercaval bundle, which connects the right atrium to the right superior pulmonary vein, has been reported to render isolation of the RSPV challenging requiring ablation at the carina or from the RA (4,5). Similarly, the Bachmann bundle, the main pathway of interatrial connection, has been shown to be critical for maintenance of biatrial flutters (6,7). More recently, conduction across the subepicardial septopulmonary bundle has been implicated in the maintenance roof dependent flutter despite isolation of the endocardial posterior wall (8). In contrast, the role of epicardial connections in sustaining right atrial arrhythmias has been less well described.In this edition of the Journal, Chaumont et al. describe five patients who underwent electrophysiology study for typical atrial flutter, who had persistent arrhythmia despite achieving a line of block along the endocardial aspect of cavotricuspid isthmus (CTI) (9). Using entrainment and activation mapping during tachycardia, they identified atrial tissue critical to the arrhythmia circuit in the middle cardiac vein in four patients, and in close proximity to the CS ostium in one patient. Ablation at these locations restored sinus rhythm. Electroanatomic mapping was not available for most of these cases. Rather than a limitation, this absence allowed an amazing demonstration “old school” deductive electrophysiology.The authors should be commended for this series of cases which demonstrate connections that sustain atrial flutter by bypassing the endocardially blocked CTI. This study elucidates the complex, layered physiology underpinning atrial flutter, considered among the simpler of arrhythmias we treat in the electrophysiology laboratory. The strength of the study is the elegant intracardiac electrograms for each case which allowed the authors to infer the mechanism of refractory arrhythmia and eliminate it by targeting critical areas guided by EGMs within the coronary venous system. Prior studies of atrial fibrillation have suggested that epicardial-endocardial breakthrough maybe an important mechanism in maintenance of persistent AF (10). It appears that a similar mechanism maybe responsible for maintaining typical flutter refractory to endocardial CTI ablation.Based on their findings, the authors propose a CS to low right atrium (RA) epicardial connection in the first four patients, and an RA to RA epicardial connection in one patient critical to the tachycardia circuit. Anatomically, however, it is unclear whether discrete connections akin to accessory pathways exist between these regions of interest to explain the observed findings. It is more likely that the atrial flutter circuit encompasses the entire thickness of the atrium, and owing to fiber orientation across the two layers, there are regions where the endocardial and epicardial surfaces communicate with each other. At these locations we appreciate the epicardial component of persistent flutter once the endocardium is ablated and line of block is achieved but tachycardia continues uninterrupted. This concept is illustrated in Figure 1, which demonstrates a case of persistent mitral annular flutter refractory to endocardial mitral annular line. Epicardial conduction necessary for maintaining tachycardia was observed after endocardial ablation, and ablation from the coronary sinus slowed and terminated the tachycardia.The advent of high resolution 3-dimensional mapping systems has allowed characterization of atrial activation patterns in detail during tachycardia. Pathik et al investigated epicardial-endocardial breakthrough in activation mapping of right atrial macro-reentry tachycardia in 26 patients (11). They defined breakthrough as the presence of focal endocardial activation with radial spread unaccounted for by an endocardial wavefront, with same timing on every tachycardia cycle. Epicardial-endocardial breakthrough was observed in over 50% of the patients, with majority at the posterior RA, and one each at cavotricuspid isthmus postablation, RA septum, and the inferolateral RA. In four patients, areas of breakthrough were within the tachycardia circuit, and in one patient the breakthrough region was critical for arrhythmia maintenance. In all cases, breakthrough sites were adjacent to endocardial slowing or line of block—as mentioned above this finding is not entirely surprising, given that endocardial block is necessary to observe epicardial breakthrough while activation mapping.A detailed morphologic and histologic study of the inferior right atrial isthmus by Cabrera et al may provide some anatomical insight to explain the current study findings (12). The authors establish the isthmus to be an anatomically heterogeneous region, with the anterior aspect being consistently muscular, while the posterior membranous and the middle trabeculated aspects having variable ratios of muscle fibers to fibrofatty tissue, with myocardial bundles extending from terminal crest toward the Eustachian ridge to cover the mouth of the coronary sinus. In refractory atrial flutter following endocardial CT ablation, it maybe that ablation from the CS allows the elimination of residual conduction through these muscle fibers which is critical for maintenance of tachycardia.In conclusion, Chaumont et al should be congratulated for elegantly demonstrating the multi-layer physiological architecture of typical atrial flutter—a reflection of the anatomic complexity and heterogeneity of the cavotricuspid isthmus and its inputs, and of the atrial musculature in general. Appreciation of this complexity will undoubtedly empower us to characterize and treat this arrhythmia and others more effectively.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia and is a significant public health burden.1,2 Many mutations in ion-channel and non ion-channel structural genes are linked to AF especially in patients with family history and no risk factors.3 The pulmonary vein muscle sleeves are the main trigger for AF. 4 Many studies showed that pulmonary vein isolation (PVI) via catheter ablation is superior to medical therapy in decreasing all-cause mortality, hospitalizations and recurrence 5-7. Though it is still controversial, vagal denervation and targeting the major atrial ganglionated plexi (GP) have been reported by Pappone et al. to improve the outcome after PVI.8 GP ablation has been associated with QT prolongation and ventricular arrhythmias9. PVI affects the atrial GP, modifies the intrinsic cardiac autonomic nervous system and could lead to QT prolongation and lethal ventricular arrhythmias such as torsade de pointe and ventricular tachycardia.10In their study published in this issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, Chikata et. al investigated the effect of PVI on the QT interval in patients with paroxysmal AF, and identified associated predisposing factors . 11 This was a retrospective observational study of 117 patients (out of 280 patients who were screened) with paroxysmal AF who underwent PVI via cryoballoon, hotballoon and radiofrequency at Toyama Prefectural Center in Japan between January 2016 and June 2019. The authors assessed 12 lead electrocardiograms (ECGs) at baseline and after four hours, one day, one month and three months. At each evalulaion point, they included only patients with sinus rhythm and excluded those taking antiarrhythmic drugs, drugs known to prolong QT intervals, patients undergoing renal transplant or having electrolyte imbalances in order to eliminate possible confounding factors. They measured the QRS, heart rate, QT interval and calculated QTc using the Bazett, Fridericia, Framingham and Hodges formulas at each evaluation point. All patients underwent PVI under conscious sedation with the same anesthesia regimen. They performed Cavotricuspid isthmus line ablation only if the Cavotricuspid isthmus dependent atrial flutter was noted, and they did not perform any intentional GP ablation. The study showed that QTc interval calculated by Bazett formula and the Fridericia formula was significantly prolonged at each time point ,whereas that of the Framingham formula and the Hodges formula was significantly prolonged only in the acute phase. The authors attributed this discrepancy to how each formula correlates with heart rate (HR). Since PVI could lead to autonomic denervation, a reflex increase in heart rate can be expected especially during the acute phase following the procedure. Furthermore, the study showed that in the acute phase post PVI, women had significantly prolonged QTc interval as compared to their baseline and to men (P < 0.05).The authors explained that QTc calculated by the Bazzet formula is more prone to error especially at elevated heart rates seen post PVI. In the setting of tachycardia, the QTc can be expected to prolong since the R-R interval shortens to a greater extent than the QT. Hence, the Bazzet’s QTc formula will overcorrect and overestimate the prevalence of the QT interval at heart rate greater than 100 bpm, and linear regression methods to correct the QT interval (such as Hodges) are better for clinical use. Women are known to have a longer baseline QT interval and are more prone to develop torsade de pointe than men12. That could be explained by the hormonal effect on the expression of ion channels and by the difference in autonomic regulation between genders.13,14 Chikata at al show a possible association between gender and QT prolongation post PVI that might be explained by a difference in inflammatory response or a distinguished genetic predisposition found more frequently in women. Further investigation is warranted via prospective studies with larger sample size in the future to corroborate the findings especially with the relatively small sample size and the fact that it was a single center study.References:1. Wolf PA, Abbott RD, Kannel WB. Atrial fibrillation as an independent risk factor for stroke: the Framingham Study. Stroke . Aug 1991;22(8):983-8. doi:10.1161/01.str.22.8.9832. Chung MK, Refaat M, Shen WK, et al. Atrial Fibrillation: JACC Council Perspectives. J Am Coll Cardiol. Apr 2020; 75 (14): 1689-1713.3. Feghaly J, Zakka P, London B, MacRae CA, Refaat MM. Genetics of Atrial Fibrillation. Journal of the American Heart Association . Oct 16 2018;7(20):e009884. doi:10.1161/jaha.118.0098844. Haïssaguerre M, Jaïs P, Shah DC, et al. Spontaneous initiation of atrial fibrillation by ectopic beats originating in the pulmonary veins. The New England journal of medicine. Sep 3 1998;339(10):659-66. doi:10.1056/nejm1998090333910035. Asad ZUA, Yousif A, Khan MS, Al-Khatib SM, Stavrakis S. Catheter Ablation Versus Medical Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.Circulation Arrhythmia and electrophysiology . Sep 2019;12(9):e007414. doi:10.1161/circep.119.0074146. Refaat MM, Ballout J, Mansour M. Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation in Congenital Heart Disease. Arrhythm Electrophysiol Rev. Dec 2017; 6 (4): 191-4.7. Oral H, Knight BP, Tada H, et al. Pulmonary vein isolation for paroxysmal and persistent atrial fibrillation. Circulation . Mar 5 2002;105(9):1077-81. doi:10.1161/hc0902.1047128. Pappone C, Santinelli V, Manguso F, et al. Pulmonary vein denervation enhances long-term benefit after circumferential ablation for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Circulation . Jan 27 2004;109(3):327-34. doi:10.1161/01.cir.0000112641.16340.c79. He B, Lu Z, He W, et al. Effects of ganglionated plexi ablation on ventricular electrophysiological properties in normal hearts and after acute myocardial ischemia. International journal of cardiology . Sep 20 2013;168(1):86-93. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.09.06710. Münkler P, Wutzler A, Attanasio P, et al. Ventricular Tachycardia (VT) Storm After Cryoballoon-Based Pulmonary Vein Isolation. The American journal of case reports . Sep 11 2018;19:1078-1082. doi:10.12659/ajcr.90899911. Chikata A. Prolongation of QT interval after pulmonary vein isolation for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology . 2020;12. Drici MD, Burklow TR, Haridasse V, Glazer RI, Woosley RL. Sex hormones prolong the QT interval and downregulate potassium channel expression in the rabbit heart. Circulation . Sep 15 1996;94(6):1471-4. doi:10.1161/01.cir.94.6.147113. Chen YJ, Lee SH, Hsieh MH, et al. Effects of 17beta-estradiol on tachycardia-induced changes of atrial refractoriness and cisapride-induced ventricular arrhythmia. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol . Apr 1999;10(4):587-98. doi:10.1111/j.1540-8167.1999.tb00716.x14. Huikuri HV, Pikkujämsä SM, Airaksinen KE, et al. Sex-related differences in autonomic modulation of heart rate in middle-aged subjects. Circulation . Jul 15 1996;94(2):122-5. doi:10.1161/01.cir.94.2.122
We are facing a new challenge: will imaging be the resolutive tool or will new mapping catheters and mapping system together with mathematical simulation solve this rebus? Clinical imaging will always remain attractive, particularly for elective cases and may add decisive information to best plan an ablation strategy: it represents a great tool in the hands of the electrophysiologist; however, as electrophysiologists, the imaging we should pursue is electrical – the depiction of the entire reentry circuit remains the sole proof of the target to ablate.
We thank Dr Shah and colleagues for their interest, analysis of the presented data and comments related to our paper1. Circumferential PV isolation using 8mm tip catheter is still currently used in our institution for some patients due to economic reasons, so we can provide AF ablation for a portion of the population for whom there is no private insurance available, with adequate safety and results (recurrence rate in this series was 15.6% in a follow-up of 11±5 months)2. Those catheters have two temperature sensors, thus reducing the risk of clot formation on the tip of the catheter. For the same reason, our institutional standard when using such catheters is to deliver RF applications in temperature-controlled mode with maximum temperature of 55ºC. This mode of RF application is different compared to irrigated tip catheters and the mode of application used in the cited experimental study mentioned by the authors, in which it was used power-controlled RF applications.3 Due to the temperature-controlled mode of RF application, the cooling of esophagus generates a convective cooling of the atrial wall close to the esophagus and the catheter interface, leading to the higher power RF application that was observed in Group III.2 Probably due to this higher power of application, there was a higher rate of esophageal and periesophageal lesions injuries in the esophageal cooling group. This rate was however acceptable, since we used esophagogastroduodenoscopies (EGD) combined with radial endosonographies (EUS), that is a high sensitivity method of screening for esophageal lesion. Additionally, there were no severe or clinically significant lesions in any of the patients. A prior experimental model we performed some years ago also suggests this hypothesis.4 This model was similar to the one used by Montoya and cols3 and we could find deeper lesions with esophageal cooling and temperature-controlled applications, but similar depth, when power-controlled applications were performed.4 In silico models could also be used to evaluate the different effects of esophageal cooling using temperature or power-controlled RF applications. So, we think that the flow used in our studied balloon was not the reason for the findings, but the mode of application, although even in the esophageal cooling group the incidence of lesions was low. This was a prototype balloon used for the first time in clinical studies, and it was not possible to measure inflow and outflow temperature, being not possible to define heat transfer capacity. However, as presented before, as there was a higher RF power in group III we can infer that we achieved some cooling on the esophagus-atrium interface. Tsuchiya and cols showed a reduction in luminal esophageal temperature using an esophageal balloon with irrigation flow similar to our study.5We strongly agree with the authors that a higher flow of irrigation and consequential higher temperature reduction could be more protective, especially using power-controlled RF applications. Additionally, we think that esophageal cooling strategies are a promising strategy to avoid severe esophageal lesions, especially with contact sensor, power-controlled RF applications, allowing more effective atrial lesions close to the esophagus, thus improving AF ablation results. References 1. Shah S, Mercado Montoya M, Zagrodzky J, Kulstad E. Letter to the Editor regarding the paper "Comparative study of strategies to prevent esophageal and periesophageal injury during atrial fibrillation ablation". Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology. 2020.2. de Oliveira BD, Oyama H, Hardy CA, et al. Comparative study of strategies to prevent esophageal and periesophageal injury during atrial fibrillation ablation. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2020;31(4):924-933.3. Montoya MM, Mickelsen S, Clark B, et al. Protecting the esophagus from thermal injury during radiofrequency ablation with an esophageal cooling device. J Atr Fibrillation. 2019;11(5):2110.4. Scanavacca MI, Neto S, Pisani CF, et al. Cooled intra-esophageal balloon to prevent thermal injury of esophageal wall during radiofrequency ablation. Heart rhythm. 2007;4(5):S117.5. Tsuchiya T, Ashikaga K, Nakagawa S, Hayashida K, Kugimiya H. Atrial fibrillation ablation with esophageal cooling with a cooled water-irrigated intraesophageal balloon: a pilot study. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 2007;18(2):145-150.
Percutaneous atrial septal defect (ASD) closure is the mainstay treatment for ostium secundum ASD and patent foramen ovale1. Patients with ASD may develop atrial fibrillation (AF), mostly due to structural atrial remodeling creating the substrate for macroreentry2,3. Timing of ASD closure is crucial to prevent further development of electrophysiological heterogeneity, thereby reducing morbidity associated with AF, even though patients with ASD closure devices remain at high risk of developing AF4.The rising number of patients undergoing percutaneous ASD closure poses a new challenge in the treatment of coexistent AF. Furthermore, the reduction of surgical ASD treatment with concurrent cryo- or radiofrequency ablation (modified Maze procedure) is contributing to increase the number of patients who would benefit from catheter ablation after transcatheter ASD closure. Although some studies have shown a high acute success rate of catheter ablation in this population5, this treatment is often denied due the higher perceived risk of performing the transseptal puncture (TSP) after percutaneous repair of the defect.Given the lack of definitive data on this topic, in this issue of the Journal, Garg et al. performed the first meta-analysis evaluating the safety and the efficacy of catheter ablation for AF in this subset of high-risk patients with ASD closure devices.
Combined use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was globally adopted, in part due to paucity and high cost of alternative therapies. However the utility of these medications has been questioned; and thus safety becomes a major concern given clinical equipoise regarding efficacy. Both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin continue to be administered in US clinical trials examining their potential role in prevention of infection, treatment of mild infection in ambulatory patients, and in combination with other medical regimens in treatment of patients with severe disease. These drugs also continue to be clinically utilized in hospitalized patients around the globe, often without continuous telemetry due to lack of resources. Concern regarding use of hydroxychloroquine without adequate rhythm monitoring in clinical trials has been recently expressed.1 A review of clinicaltrials.gov at the time of submission of this correspondence reveals actively recruiting trials of combined hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin with or without additional COVID-19 therapies, for both ambulatory and hospitalized patients within and outside the US. The potential for hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to cause QT prolongation is counterbalanced by very low risk of pro-arrhythmia in the general population, and emerging evidence of relatively low risk of Torsades de Pointes (TdP) in COVID-19 patients.2,3,4,5 Thus delineation of the determinants of significant QTc prolongation and pro-arrhythmic risk for hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin is very important, especially given mounting evidence of inefficacy in COVID-19 treatment.
Are all Non-sustained Ventricular Tachycardia the Same in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Risk Stratification for Sudden Cardiac Death?Mohamad Khaled Sabeh MD1, Marwan M. Refaat MD21Cardiac Arrhythmia Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts - USA2Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, American University of Beirut Medical Center Beirut, LebanonRunning Title: NSVT in HCM SCD Risk StratificationWords (excluding references): 664Disclosures: NoneFunding: NoneKeywords: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Non-sustained Ventricular Tachycardia, Cardiac Arrhythmias, Cardiovascular DiseasesCorrespondence:Marwan M. Refaat, MD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS, FASE, FESC, FACP, FRCPAssociate Professor of MedicineDirector, Cardiovascular Fellowship ProgramDepartment of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine/Cardiac ElectrophysiologyDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular GeneticsAmerican University of Beirut Faculty of Medicine and Medical CenterPO Box 11-0236, Riad El-Solh 1107 2020- Beirut, LebanonFax: +961-1-370814Clinic: +961-1-350000/+961-1-374374 Extension 5800Office: +961-1-350000/+961-1-374374 Extension 5353 or Extension 5366 (Direct)Email: email@example.comCardiomyopathies with reduced systolic function predispose to sudden cardiac death (SCD) and many studies helped in decreasing that risk by Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) implantation and pharmacologic management (1-4). Many types of cardiomyopathies with preserved systolic function, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), can predispose to malignant ventricular arrhythmias and SCD. HCM is the most common inherited cardiac disease that affects 1 in 200 live births (5,6). SCD remains one of the main causes of death in HCM and the SCD rate peaks in early adulthood (7-14). Data from ICDs suggest that SCD in HCM is most commonly caused by ventricular fibrillation (VF) (15). One major clinical challenge is identifying patients at risk for SCD. Multiple studies showed that non-sustained ventricular tachycardia (NSVT) is a risk actor for SCD (16,17). However the strength of the data was variable across these studies due to difference in populations and the low sensitivity of Holter ECG. Moreover, other studies looked at the rate and duration of the ventricular arrhythmias and their relationship to SCD in HCM (17-19) yet the effect of the morphology of NSVT on SCD has not been well investigated.In this single center study Adduci et al . explore the prognostic impact of different NSVT morphologies in a cohort of 109 consecutive HCM patients. The study included patients who had an ICD implanted in the authors’ institution from January 2001 to December 2018. The ICDs were mostly implanted for primary prevention in HCM patient with 1) one or more risk factor including maximal LV thickness ≥30 mm, family history of SD in at least 1 first-degree relative <50 years of age, non-sustained ventricular tachycardia (NSVT), recent (≤ 6 months) unexplained syncope, 2) hypotensive blood pressure during exercise with at least one additional major risk factor for SD 3) end-stage HCM regardless of other established risk markers of SCD. Devices were interrogated on evaluation every 3 to 6 months and the data was assessed for appropriate or inappropriate ICD therapies. Two independent electrophysiologists analyzed the ICD near field and far field EGMs from the ventricular tachycardia runs. They classified the VTs as either monomorphic (MMVT) or polymorphic (PMVT).During a mean follow up of 71+/- 48 months, 377 NSVT episodes of NSVT were retrieved from ICD memory in 46 patients; of these episodes, 7(2%) were polymorphic and 370 (98%) were monomorphic (MM). The mean HR of The MM NSVT had an average HR of 171+/- 32 BPM and lasted for 17 +/- 12 beats while the PMVT were faster at 241BPM +/- and longer at 28+/- 16 beats. The appropriate intervention rate was 5.1% per year and interestingly NSVT did not predict the occurrence of ICD therapy. However patients with polymorphic NSVT had a statistically higher risk for ICD intervention as compared to monomorphic NSVT. Further analysis noted a trend for increased risk of ICD therapy with patients with >1 NSVT morphology. Moreover 75% of the treated VTs had been previously observed as NSVT.Risk stratification is very important in this young patient population; decreasing the risk threshold for ICD implants leads to missed arrhythmias and bad outcomes while increasing it increases the risk for complications from unnecessarily implanted devices. There are several types of ICDs: Transvenous ICD, Subcutaneous ICD and Extravascular ICD. The results of this study suggest that the risk of SCD in patients with PMVT and/or NSVT with multiple morphologies is different from that of patients with a MMVT, and that the presence of short MMVT doe not predict the future ICD therapies. As such, one may consider a conservative approach in low-risk patients with short bursts of slow MM NSVT, and a more aggressive approach in patients with frequent, rapid rate burst of PMVT. Although this study suggests that different NSVT morphologies affect the prognosis in HCM patients, the low number of events lacked the statistical power to redefine ICD candidacy. Larger multicenter studies are needed to confirm these findings and to help delineate the “at risk patients” who would truly benefit from ICDs.
A Cardiac Sodium Channel Mutation Associated with Epinephrine-Induced Marked QT-ProlongationMohamad N. El Moheb MD1, Marwan M. Refaat MD21Division of Trauma Emergency Surgery and Surgical Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts - USA2Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, American University of Beirut Medical Center Beirut, LebanonRunning Title: SCN5A mutation associated with epinephrine-induced LQTSWords (excluding references): 746Disclosures: NoneFunding: NoneKeywords: Long QT Syndrome, Genetics, Variants, Cardiac Arrhythmias, Cardiovascular DiseasesCorrespondence:Marwan M. Refaat, MD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS, FASE, FESC, FACP, FRCPAssociate Professor of MedicineDirector, Cardiovascular Fellowship ProgramDepartment of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine/Cardiac ElectrophysiologyDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular GeneticsAmerican University of Beirut Faculty of Medicine and Medical CenterPO Box 11-0236, Riad El-Solh 1107 2020- Beirut, LebanonFax: +961-1-370814Clinic: +961-1-350000/+961-1-374374 Extension 5800Office: +961-1-350000/+961-1-374374 Extension 5353 or Extension 5366 (Direct)Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgThe hereditary long QT syndrome (LQTS) is an important cause of polymorphous ventricular tachycardia (torsades de pointes) and sudden cardiac death in otherwise young and healthy individuals. Clinically, this condition is caused by delayed ventricular repolarization and manifests as an abnormally prolonged QT interval on the electrocardiogram (ECG). The most common subtypes of LQTS are LQT1, LQT2, and LQT3 (1-10). The life-threatening arrhythmias occur most frequently during exercise in LQT1, upon auditory stimulation or emotional stress in LQT2, and at rest or during sleep in LQT3 (11). Patients with LQT1 have a mutation in the KCNQ1 gene which codes for the subunit of the slow outward potassium current channel (IKs) while patients with LQT3 have a mutation in the SCN5A gene, which codes for the cardiac voltage-dependent sodium channel (INa) (12). LQT1-affected individuals are more vulnerable to β-adrenergic modulation than LQT3-affected individuals. Exercise and epinephrine-infusion ECG tests are therefore useful in differentiating between the LQTS subtypes and optimizing therapeutic strategies in order to prevent sudden cardiac death. While beta-blockers have been established as the standard of care for the treatment of the LQT1 and LQT2 subtypes, their use in LQT3 remains controversial (13, 14). A new missense mutation has been recently identified in the SCN5A-encoding INA channels and was found to be associated with sinus node dysfunction and epinephrine-induced QT prolongation (1). This atypical phenotype of LQT3 has so far been observed in only one patient. Whether other mutations exist that can cause a similar manifestation has yet to determined.In the current issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, Nakajima et al. describe a family with LQT3 that exhibited epinephrine-induced marked QT prolongation. The SCN5A V1667I mutation was found to be responsible for this atypical phenotype which resulted in prolongation of the QT interval in the proband as well as in family members carrying the mutation. The SCN5A V1667I mutation is a gain of function mutation located in domain IV-segment 5 (DIV-S5) of the sodium channel encoding SCN5A gene. To elucidate the pathophysiology of the disease, the authors transfected a human kidney cell line (tsA-201) to induce expression of wild-type and mutated sodium channels and measured the membrane sodium currents (INA). They showed that SCN5A V1667I mutation was associated with larger INA peak density, depolarizing shift in steady-state inactivation (SSI) leading to increased window current, and accelerated recovery from depolarization. Additionally, an increased hump in the INA of V1667I mutant cells (V1667I-INA) was observed during a ramp pulse protocol consistent with increased window current. There was no difference in fast inactivation rate and steady-state activation between the V1667I-INA and wild-type INA(WT-INA). The authors further examined the effects of protein kinase A (PKA) activation on V1667I-INA to mimic the effect of epinephrine. PKA activation resulted in a less significant hyperpolarizing shift in SSI in V1667I-INA compared to WT-INA leading to increased window current. Additionally, V1667I mutation was found to be associated with accelerated recovery from depolarization, and increased hump during ramp pulse protocol in the setting of PKA activation. Chen et al. have also reported the case of an individual with a mutation in SCN5A who exhibited marked QT-prolongation after epinephrine infusion (1). However, contrary to the SCN5A V1667I mutation described by Nakajima et al, the SCN5A V2016M defect was a loss of function mutation causing a decrease in INA peak density. The clinical manifestations of the SCN5A mutations described by Chen et al. and Nakajima et al. are more comparable to individuals with the LQT1 subtype than those with the LQT3 subtype. Therefore, it should be considered whether certain patients with SCN5A would benefit from beta-blocker therapy.Overall, the authors should be commended on their efforts to describe for the first time a family with the SCN5A V1667I mutation and show that this mutation is associated with epinephrine-induced marked QT prolongation. The authors have also provided important insight into the electrophysiological properties of the mutant channels and the structure-function relationship of SCN5A. Further studies are needed to elucidate the precise molecular mechanisms of PKA activation on WT-INa and V1667I-INa. The results of this study have important clinical implications. The efficacy of beta-blockers for the treatment of LQTS has so far only been proven for the LQT1 and LQT2 subtypes, with conflicting results for the LQT3 subtype (13, 14). Given the marked QT prolongation in response to epinephrine infusion in carriers of the SCN5A V1667I mutation, certain LQT3 patients may benefit from beta-blocker therapy. Future studies should clarify whether beta-blockers are effective in these patients.
Introduction: Patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and atrial fibrillation (AF) require chronic anticoagulation due to a high thromboembolic risk. Evidence supporting use of non-vitamin K oral anticoagulants (NOACs) in patients with HCM remains sparse, and there are no data regarding the use of NOACs in HCM patients undergoing catheter ablation of AF. Methods: Observational non-randomised study in 4 European Centres. We aimed to investigate the safety and efficacy of NOACs compared with vitamin-K antagonists (VKAs) in patients with HCM undergoing catheter ablation for AF. Results: One hundred thirty-seven HCM patients (mean age 55.0±13.4, 29.1% female) underwent 230 catheter ablations for AF (1.7±1.0 per patient). A total of 55 patients (39.4%) underwent 70 procedures (30.4%) on NOAC, while the remaining were on VKA. Warfarin (97.6%) and rivaroxaban (56.4%) were the most frequently used agents in the respective groups. No procedure-related deaths were reported. We observed no significant difference in the rate of thromboembolism (VKA 0.6%; NOAC 0%; p=1.0) or minor bleeding (VKA 0.6%; NOAC 1.4%; p=0.54). There was a non-significant trend towards a lower incidence of major bleeding (VKA 6.8%; NOAC 1.4%; p=0.09). Conclusion: These preliminary data suggest that NOACs are at least as safe and effective as VKAs in patients with HCM undergoing catheter ablation for AF.