Postpacing impulse recovery times of the junctional tissue (junctional automaticity) were determined by atrial or ventricular overdrive pacing in 27 patients with dysfunction of the sinus node. The maximal junctional recovery time (MJRT) could be measured in 22 patients and ranged from 1,630 to 9,730 (mean 3,860 ± 2,077); the maximum corrected junctional recovery time (MJRTc) could be measured in 18 patients and ranged from 140 to 5,986 ms (mean 2,089 ± 1,529). Autonomic influence on the JRTs was evaluated by intravenous administration of atropine (1.5 mg) alone or in combination with propranolol (5 to 6 mg). Of the seven patients in whom MJRTc and/or MJRT could be measured before and after drug intervention, the JRTs shortened in four and prolonged in three after combination of atropine and propranolol. Atropine alone shortened MJRT in all eight patients studied. Our data reveal that both vagal and catecholamine-dependent factors (especially vagal over-activity) are operative in the escape mechanism of the junctional tissue.
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