Journal Article

Implications of mechanism of bradycardia on response to pacing in patients with unexplained syncope

Sachin Sud, George J. Klein, Allan C. Skanes, Lorne J. Gula, Raymond Yee and Andrew D. Krahn

in EP Europace

Published on behalf of European Heart Rhythm Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC)

Volume 9, issue 5, pages 312-318
Published in print May 2007 | ISSN: 1099-5129
Published online March 2007 | e-ISSN: 1532-2092 | DOI:
Implications of mechanism of bradycardia on response to pacing in patients with unexplained syncope

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Asystole >3 s or sinus bradycardia with a ventricular rate <40 in association with complete heart block or sinus node dysfunction are considered to be Class 1 indications for permanent cardiac pacing. Nevertheless, these phenomena may be observed in symptomatic patients with neurocardiogenic syncope, who may not respond to pacing therapy. We hypothesized that the pattern of spontaneous bradycardia in symptomatic patients would distinguish patients with sinus node dysfunction or conduction system disease who would benefit from pacing from patients with neurally-mediated syncope who would derive lesser benefit.

Methods and results

Patients with symptomatic spontaneous bradycardia during long-term monitoring for unexplained syncope who underwent pacemaker implantation were classified according to the ISSUE classification system and followed for recurrent syncope. Follow-up included review of medical records, pacemaker clinic visits, and telephone interviews. Loop recorder tracings were reviewed to identify characteristics potentially predicting a favourable response to pacing. Thirty-three patients (21 male; age, 70 ± 14) were followed for 3.56 ± 1.71 years. Six patients had a recurrence of syncope during the follow-up. All patients with recurrent syncope despite pacing demonstrated a Type 1A (n = 5) or 1B (n = 1) pattern with gradual onset of bradycardia at baseline, suggesting a neurocardiogenic mechanism. There was no difference in the severity of bradycardia or duration of asystole in baseline loop recorded events in responding and non-responding patients. Multivariate analysis using stepwise logistic regression revealed that the ISSUE classification and the absence of structural heart disease were the only independent predictors of treatment failure of cardiac pacing in patients with spontaneous symptomatic bradycardia.


Patients with syncope associated with abrupt bradycardia displayed a better response to cardiac pacing therapy than those with gradual onset bradycardia.

Keywords: Syncope; Bradycardia; Pacemaker; Diagnosis; Monitoring

Journal Article.  4076 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cardiovascular Medicine

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