Proarrhythmic response to sodium channel blockade. Theoretical model and numerical experiments.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: The use of flecainide and encainide was terminated in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial because of an excess of sudden cardiac deaths in the active treatment group. Such events might arise from reentrant rhythms initiated by premature stimulation in the presence of anisotropic sodium channel availability. Drugs that bind to sodium channels increase the functional dispersion of refractoriness by slowing (a result of the drug-unbinding process) the transition from an inexcitable state to an excitable state. It is interesting that encainide and flecainide unbind slowly (15-20 seconds), whereas lidocaine and moricizine unbind rapidly (0.2-1.3 seconds). METHODS AND RESULTS: With a computer representation of a cable with Beeler-Reuter membrane properties, we found a small (6 msec) vulnerable window that occurred 338 msec after the last drive stimulus. Premature stimuli falling within the vulnerable window resulted in unidirectional block and reentrant activation. In the presence of a slowly unbinding drug, the window was delayed an additional 341 msec, and its duration was extended to 38 msec. The delay (antiarrhythmic effect) before the onset of the vulnerable window and its duration (proarrhythmic effect) were both dependent on the sodium channel availability and the recovery process. Both effects were also prolonged when sodium channel availability was reduced by membrane depolarization. Defining the proarrhythmic potential as the duration of the vulnerable window, we found that hypothetical use-dependent class I drugs have a greater proarrhythmic potential than non-use-dependent drugs. CONCLUSIONS: The antiarrhythmic and proarrhythmic properties of pure sodium channel antagonists are both dependent on sodium channel availability. Consequently, the price for increased antiarrhythmic efficacy (suppressed premature ventricular contractions) is an increased proarrhythmic vulnerability to unsuppressed premature ventricular contractions.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Starmer, CF; Lastra, AA; Nesterenko, VV; Grant, AO

Published Date

  • September 1, 1991

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 84 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 1364 - 1377

PubMed ID

  • 1653123

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0009-7322

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1161/01.cir.84.3.1364


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States