Electrocardiographic interpretation of pacemaker algorithms enabling minimal ventricular pacing

  • Harry G. Mond
    Address reprint requests and correspondence: Dr Harry G. Mond, Department of Cardiology, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, 3050, Victoria, Australia.
    Department of Cardiology, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

    CardioScan Pty Ltd, Camberwell, Victoria, Australia
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      Cardiac pacing from the apex of the right ventricle has been shown to result in left ventricular dysfunction, atrial fibrillation, and increased mortality. To counter these effects, one of the strategies developed is avoidance of ventricular pacing when not necessary, using programmable algorithms to minimize ventricular pacing. Seven algorithms are available from 5 manufacturers. Four of the manufacturers have mode conversion algorithms that pace AAI(R) but, in the presence of failed atrioventricular (AV) conduction, demonstrate algorithm-offset and convert to DDD(R) with ventricular pacing. Three manufacturers do not have mode conversion but rather AV extension to encourage AV conduction. Each of these algorithms has a unique design and, when ventricular pacing is present, will regularly schedule conduction testing to encourage AV conduction and hence algorithm-onset. All of these algorithms seem to violate the rule of AV conduction by allowing the AV delay for sensed ventricular events to be longer than for ventricular paced events. The result is frequently bizarre electrocardiographic (ECG) appearances that often are unique to the company’s algorithm but also suggest pacemaker malfunction. This review highlights and illustrates the features of these algorithms as they appear on ECG, and discusses other situations that result in unintended ventricular pacing.


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