Factors determining the susceptibility of the isolated guinea pig heart to ventricular fibrillation induced by sinusoidal alternating current at frequencies from 1 to 1000 Hz

Research paper by J. Weirich, St. Hohnloser, H. Antoni

Indexed on: 01 Nov '83Published on: 01 Nov '83Published in: Basic Research in Cardiology


We determined the threshold for ventricular fibrillation by means of sinusoidal alternating current (AC) from 1 to 1000 Hz on isolated perfused guinea pig hearts. Current was applied via electrodes located in the aorta and at the apex of the heart. The duration of current flow was kept constant at 1 s. Electrical activity was recorded with epicardial electrodes attached to the ventricles. Additional experiments were performed in isolated papillary muscles with intracellular microelectrodes. The fibrillation threshold, expressed as peak-to-peak current strength, attains a minimum at about 30 Hz and rises by a factor of 5 at 1 Hz, and by a factor of 14 at 1000 Hz. In the frequency range from 30 to 1000 Hz the rise of the fibrillation threshold can be attributed to the increase of the threshold for stimulation due to the progressive shortening of the AC periods. Thus no change of the fibrillation threshold occurs if DC pulses of constant duration are used in the same range of frequencies. Below 30 Hz there is only a slight increase of the threshold for stimulation, which cannot entirely account for the rise of the threshold for fibrillation. A likely cause of the reduced susceptibility of the heart to fibrillation at the lower frequencies is the reduced number of extrasystoles preceding the onset of fibrillation, which results in a less pronounced state of inhomogeneous excitability.