The effect of acute coronary artery occlusion on subepicardial transmembrane potentials in the intact porcine heart

E DownarD Durrer


Subepicardial transmembrane potentials were recorded from intact pig hearts to observe the changes induced by acute ischemia. Ischemia shortened action potential duration, and decreased its amplitude, upstroke velocity, and resting potential. The cells were unresponsive after 12 to 15 minutes of coronary artery occlusion, yet near normal action potentials could be restored by flushing the occluded artery with saline as late as 40 minutes after occlusion. The unipolar extracellular electrogram reflected unresponsiveness by a monophasic potential. Local refractory periods initially shortened by up to 100 msec. Later, postrepolarization refractoriness occurred and refractory periods lengthened often in excess of basic cycle length, thus resulting in 2:1 responses. The onset of early ventricular arrhythmias often coincided with a period of alternation and 2:1 responses, especially when these got out of phase in different regions. Reperfusion frequently led to ventricular fibrillation, and was associated with marked inhomogeneity in cellular responses. Re-entry within ischemic myocardium was the most likely mechanism for arrhythmias.


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