Objectives. We examined the circadian variations in atrioventricular (AV) conduction properties during atrial fibrillation (AF) by a technique based on the Lorenz plot of successive ventricular response (VR) intervals and analyzed their relations with clinical features. Background. The VR interval in chronic AF shows circadian variation, which is attenuated in patients with an increased risk of death. Although the VR interval is determined by the dynamic processes in the AV node randomly stimulated by rapid atrial activity, the circadian variations of the AV conduction properties related to this mechanism are unknown. Methods. In 48 patients with chronic AF, Lorenz plots were generated on overlapping sequential segments of 512 VR intervals in 24-h ambulatory electrocardiograms. For each scatter plot, the 1.0-s intercept of the lower envelope (LE1.0) of the plot and the degree of scatter above the envelope (root mean square difference from the envelope [scattering index]) were measured for estimating AV node refractoriness and concealed AV conduction, respectively. Results. In all patients, a significant circadian rhythm was observed for the average VR interval, LE1.0 and scattering index, with an acrophase occurring at night. The mesor, amplitude and acrophase of LE1.0 and the scattering index closely and independently correlated with the corresponding rhythm variables of the average VR interval (partial r2 0.98, 0.86 and 0.68 for LE1.0 and 0.98, 0.92 and 0.92 for scattering index). The amplitudes of these measures were lower in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) even after adjustment for the effects of age, duration of AF, medications, left atrial diameter and blood pressure (p < 0.01 for all). Conclusions. These results suggest that 1) both AV node refractoriness and the degree of concealed AV conduction during AF may show a circadian rhythm; 2) the circadian rhythms of these properties may independently contribute to the circadian variation of the VR interval; and 3) these circadian rhythms may be attenuated in patients with CHF.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine