Cardiac automaticity: basic concepts and clinical observations

Hector M. Vetulli, Marcelo V. Elizari, Gerald V. Naccarelli, Mario D. Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this report was to review the basic mechanisms underlying cardiac automaticity. Second, we describe our clinical observations related to the anatomical and functional characteristics of sinus automaticity. Methods: We first reviewed the main discoveries regarding the mechanisms responsible for cardiac automaticity. We then analyzed our clinical experience regarding the location of sinus automaticity in two unique populations: those with inappropriate sinus tachycardia and those with a dominant pacemaker located outside the crista terminalis region. Results: We studied 26 patients with inappropriate sinus tachycardia (age 34 ± 8 years; 21 females). Non-contact endocardial mapping (Ensite 3000, Endocardial Solutions) was performed in 19 patients and high-density contact mapping (Carto-3, Biosense Webster with PentaRay catheter) in 7 patients. The site of earliest atrial activation shifted after each RF application within and outside the crista terminalis region, indicating a wide distribution of atrial pacemaker sites. We also analyzed 11 patients with dominant pacemakers located outside the crista terminalis (age 27 ± 7 years; five females). In all patients, the rhythm was the dominant pacemaker both at rest and during exercise and located in the right atrial appendage in 6 patients, in the left atrial appendage in 4 patients, and in the mitral annulus in 1 patient. Following ablation, earliest atrial activation shifted to the region of the crista terminalis at a slower rate. Conclusions: Membrane and sub-membrane mechanisms interact to generate cardiac automaticity. The present observations in patients with inappropriate sinus tachycardia and dominant pacemakers are consistent with a wide distribution of pacemaker sites within and outside the boundaries of the crista terminalis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-270
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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