BMC cardiovascular disorders 2017 12 0817(1) 289 doi 10.1186/s12872-017-0720-1
Atrial fibrillatory cycle length has been considered one of the indices of atrial electrical remodelling during atrial fibrillation (AF), which can be assessed from surface ECG by computer-assisted calculation of atrial fibrillatory rate (AFR). Horses have been suggested as a bona fide model for AF studies since horses too, develop lone AF, however data on AF characteristics in horses are extremely sparse and non-invasive characterization of AF complexity using surface ECG processing has not been reported.
The aim was to study characteristics of induced AF and its modification by flecainide.
The study group consisted on 3 horses with spontaneous persistent AF and 13 with pace-induced AF. Seven horses were treated with saline (control) and eight with flecainide (2 mg/kg). ECGs were analysed using spatiotemporal cancellation of QRST complexes and calculation of AFR from the residual atrial signal.
At AF onset, AFR was 295 ± 52 fibrillations per minute (fpm) in the horses with induced AF treated with flecainide, 269 ± 36 fpm in the control group (ns), and 364 ± 26 fpm in the horses with spontaneous persistent AF (P < 0.05 compared to the control group). Flecainide caused a decrease in AFR in all animals and restored sinus rhythm in the animals with induced AF. In the control animals, AFR increased from 269 ± 36 fpm to a plateau of 313 ± 14 fpm before decreasing to 288 ± 28 fpm during the last 10% of the AF episodes preceding spontaneous conversion (P < 0.05). CONCLUSION
AFR in horses with induced AF resembles AFR in humans with paroxysmal AF. Flecainide caused a rapid decrease in AFR in all horses, further supporting the method to be a non-invasive technique to study the effect of antiarrhythmic compounds.