Correlation Among Fibrillation, Defibrillation, and Cardiac Pacing

Academic Article

Abstract

  • An electrical stimulus must create an electric field of approximately 1 V/cm in the extracellular space to stimulate myocardium during diastole. To initiate fibrillation by premature stimulation during the vulnerable period or to defibrillate, an extracellular electric field of approximately 6 V/cm is required, a value approximately six times greater than that necessary for diastolic pacing. Yet, the current strength of the pulse given to the stimulating electrode to initiate fibrillation or to defibrillate is much greater than six times the diastolic pacing threshold. The ventricular fibrillation threshold is typically 40 times greater than the diastolic pacing threshold expressed in terms of current. The defibrillation threshold in terms of current is typically thousands of times greater than the diastolic pacing threshold. The reason that these thresholds vary so much more in terms of stimulus current than in terms of extracellular potential gradient is that each of the three thresholds requires creation of the required potential gradient at different distances from the stimulating electrode. Pacing requires a potential gradient of approximately 1 V/cm only in a small liminal volume of tissue immediately adjacent to the electrode. Initiation of ventricular fibrillation by premature stimulation during the vulnerable period requires a potential gradient of approximately 6 V/cm about 1 cm away from the stimulating electrode to allow sufficient space for the central common pathway of a figure‐eight reentrant circuit to form. Since the potential gradient falls off rapidly with distance from the stimulating electrode, a stimulating current about 40 times greater than the diastolic pacing threshold is required to generate an electric field of 6 V/cm approximately 1 cm away from the stimulating electrode. Defibrillation requires an electric field of approximately 6 V/cm throughout all or almost all of the ventricular myocardium. Since some portions of the ventricles can be more than 10cm away from the defibrillation electrodes, a shock of several amps is required to create this field, a current thousands of times greater than the pacing threshold. Copyright © 1995, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • IDEKER RE; ZHOU X; KNISLEY SB
  • Start Page

  • 512
  • End Page

  • 525
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 3