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Effect of changes in heart rate and in action potential duration on the electrocardiogram T wave shape

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Philip Langley, Emeritus Professor Alan MurrayORCiD


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The mechanisms responsible for changes in T wave symmetry and amplitude with changes in heart rate and action potential duration were investigated. A computer model of normal left ventricular repolarization Was used to simulate the T waves on the surface 12-lead ECG. The effect of heart rate changes was studied by varying the ratio between dispersion of repolarization (Disp) and action potential repolarization duration (APRD). With constant dispersion, as heart rate increases, APRD decreases and the ratio Disp/APRD increases. T waves were Simulated while varying the Disp/APRD ratio from 3.6% to 100%. The T wave symmetry ratio measured from the areas either side of the peak (SRarea), the symmetry ratio from the times either side of the peak (SRtime) and the T wave amplitude (Tamplitude) were calculated from each simulated ECG. SRarea decreased from 1.42 to 0.77, SRtime from 1.75 to 1.04 and the Tamplitude increased from 0.19 mV to 2.30 mV. The stability of results with variation in model characteristics was also investigated, by moving the heart +/-20 mm on all three axes, rotating the heart axes by +/-10 and by modifying all constants defining the action potential by +/-5% and +/-10%. T wave amplitude was sensitive to changes in heart position, as the heart was moved towards the body surface. However, T wave shape changed very little with heart position or rotation. with the SD of SRarea varying by less than 0.05 over an SRarea range of 0.65 for different values of Disp/APRD ratio. We have shown from our model that cardiac T waves increase in amplitude, and become more symmetric with their peaks becoming central as APRD shortens with increasing heart rate, agreeing with clinical observations. These results help to explain the T wave shape changes which occur when heart rate increases.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Murray A; Langley P; di Bernanrdo D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Physiological Measurement

Year: 2002

Volume: 23

Issue: 2

Pages: 355-364

ISSN (print): 0967-3334

ISSN (electronic): 1361-6579

Publisher: Institute of Physics Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1088/0967-3334/23/2/311


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