Impedance to Defibrillation Countershock: Does an Optimal Impedance Exist?

Academic Article


  • Defibrillation is thought to occur because of changes in the transmembrane potential that are caused by current flow through the heart tissue. Impedance to electric countershock is an important parameter because it is determined by the magnitude and distribution of the current that flows for a specific shock voltage. The impedance is comprised of resistive contributions from: (Ij extra‐tissue sources, which include the defibrillator, leads, and electrodes; (2) tissue sources, which include intracardiac and extra‐cardiac tissue; and (3) the interface between electrode and tissue. Tissue sources dominate the impedance and probably contribute to the wide range of impedance values presented to the defibrillation pulse. Hucause impedance is not constant within or between subjects, defibrillators must be designed to accommodate these differences without compromising patient safety or therapeutic efficacy. Experimental investigations in animals and humans suggest that impedance changes at several different time scales ranging from milliseconds to years. These alterations are believed to be a result of both electrochemical and physiological mechanisms. It is commonly thought that impedance is optimized when it has been decreased to a minimum, since this allows the most current flow for a given voltage shock. However, if the impedance is lowered by changing the location or size of the electrodes in such a way that current flow is decreased in part of the heart even though current flow is increased elsewhere, then the total voltage, current, and energy needed for defibrillation may increase, not decrease, even though impedance is decreased. A simple boundary element computer model suggests that the most even distribution of current flow through the heart is achieved for those electrode locations in which the impedance across the heart is at or near the maximum cardiac impedance for any location of these particular electrodes. Thus, the optimum shock impedance is achieved when impedance is minimized for extra‐tissue and extra‐cardiac tissue sources and is at or near a maximum for intracardiac tissue sources. Copyright © 1995, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved
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  • Start Page

  • 2068
  • End Page

  • 2087
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 11