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Intra-Atrial Block: Definition and Relationship to Atrial Fibrillation and Other Adverse Outcomes

In 1916, Bachmann first reported on the inter-auricular time interval. However relatively little attention was paid to this ECG measurement for decades. Then, in 1956, Samuel Bradley and Henry JJ Marriott reported on intra-atrial block (IAB) in 4,500 ECGs.As defined by them, IAB was a P wave duration of 0.12 sec or longer. Since that time, others have defined IAB as 0.11 sec or longer or 0.12 sec or longer. Several authors have suggested subcategories, such as first-, second-, and third-degree patterns and some have defined specific intra-atrial and inter-atrial pathways. These are of electrocardiographic interest but have not been substantiated as related to different clinical outcomes. Many disorders have been associated with IAB. More importantly, however, IAB has been associated with several adverse outcomes, including sinus node dysfunction, atrial tachyarrhythmias – especially atrial fibrillation, thromboembolic events, and increased mortality. This brief review will detail the above to emphasize to ECG readers the importance of not overlooking IAB in their interpretations.

Credits: James A. Reiffel

Biosense Webster
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Introduction to AFib
Ablation Specialist

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