Right ventricular apical pacing: a necessary evil?
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Clinical trial evidence suggests that traditional right ventricular apical pacing may be harmful. This review summarizes the existing evidence and outlines the major avenues of ongoing research in this field. RECENT FINDINGS: Despite theoretical advantages of dual-chamber pacing, large randomized trials found only a small advantage over single-chamber ventricular pacing. Subsequent analysis of one of these trials suggested that this was due to the tendency for dual-chamber pacemakers to produce frequent, unnecessary right ventricular pacing. This hypothesis is supported by a prospective study among defibrillator recipients, showing that dual-chamber pacing results in a very high frequency of ventricular pacing and worse clinical outcomes, compared with backup ventricular pacing. These observations have led to a renewed interest in single-chamber atrial pacing for sinus node dysfunction, the development of new dual-chamber pacemaker algorithms designed to minimize right ventricular pacing, and the search for better ways to pace the ventricles in patients who require ventricular pacing. SUMMARY: Conventional right ventricular apical pacing should be avoided whenever possible. In patients who require ventricular pacing, ongoing research will determine if selected-site pacing or multisite pacing improves clinical outcomes compared with traditional right ventricular apical pacing.
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