First-degree Atrioventricular Block in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter: The Prevalence of Intra-atrial Conduction Delay

Purpose

PR interval prolongation > 200 ms resulting in the diagnosis of first-degree atrioventricular block (AVB1) is caused by a delay in the AV nodal/His conduction and/or the right intra-atrial conduction (RIAC). The aim of the study was to assess the prevalence of AVB1 due to RIAC delay (AVB1 with normal AH and HV) in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and atrial flutter (AFlu).

Methods

We included 1067 consecutive patients (33% female, age 63 ± 13 years) referred for catheter ablation of AF (AF-group) (453 patients), AF and AFlu (136 patients), AFlu (292 patients), and AVNRT/AVRT (186 patients). AH-, HV-, PR-interval, and P-wave duration were measured on the 12-lead ECG and the intracardiac electrograms in sinus rhythm. RIAC delay was defined as a prolonged PR interval > 200 ms with normal AH and HV intervals.

Results

The prevalence of AVB1 is higher in patients with AFlu (41%) and AF (21%) and patients with both arrhythmias (30%) as compared with a reference group (8%) of patients with AVNRT/AVRT. AVB1 was due to RIAC delay in 42 of 67 patients (63%) in the AF-group, in 37 of 96 patients (39%) in the AFlu-group, and in 17 of 36 patients (47%) in the AF/AFlu group, respectively. AV nodal conduction delay was more common in AFlu patients compared with AF patients.

Conclusion

RIAC delay is a common underlying cause of AVB1 in patients with AF and AFlu. These findings may impact the prescription of antiarrhythmic and AV-nodal blocking drugs.