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Clinical use and limitations of non-invasive electrophysiological tests in patients with atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a complex arrhythmia, that has been studied non-invasively assessing atrial refractory period, atrioventricular node (AV) node refractory period, and ventricular response. The AV node plays a fundamental role as it filters many of the numerous irregular atrial impulses bombarding the node. Despite its importance, the electrophysiological (EP) characteristics of the AV node are not routinely evaluated since conventional EP techniques for assessment of refractory period or conduction velocity of the AV node are not applicable in AF. Since rate-control drugs control ventricular response through their effect on the AV node, noninvasive assessment of AV node electrophysiology may be useful. The RR series, though being highly irregular, contains information that can be used for risk stratification and prediction of outcome. In particular, RR irregularity measures during AF have been shown to be related to clinical outcome. This paper reviews the attempts done to noninvasively characterize the AV node and the ventricular response, highlighting clinical applications and limitations of the noninvasive techniques.

Credits: Valentina D.A; Corino; Luca T; Mainardi; Frida Sandberg; Leif Sörnmo; Pyotr G. Platonov

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Introduction to AFib
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