Alternating Wenckebach periods occurring in the atria, His-Purkinje system, ventricles and kent bundle

Agustin Castellanos, Ruey J. Sung, Juan L. Aldrich, Ivan J. Mendoza, Robert J. Myerburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Alternating Wenckebach periods were defined as episodes of 2:1 block during which there was a gradual prolongation of the transmission intervals preceding the appearance of 3:1 or 4:1 block. Alternating Wenckebach periods occurring within the His-Purkinje system in symptomatic patients with right bundle branch block could have resulted from involvement of the His bundle only, the left bundle branch only or both structures simultaneously. Alternating Wenckebach patterns presumably occurring in the reentry pathway of ventricular extrasystoles and in the tissues surrounding an ectopic atrial focus or bipolar pacing electrodes were manifested in the coupling intervals of the premature beats; in the P-P intervals of atrial tachycardia with atrioventricular (A-V) block due to digitalis; and in the stimulus (St)-A intervals following electrical stimuli delivered to the atria at fast rates. Alternating Wenckebach periods of St-H and St-delta wave intervals in patients with the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome resulted from involvement of the Kent bundle itself, or of the atria as a proximal level common to distal longitudinally dissociated structures (Kent bundle and A-V node). It is concluded that contrary to what is commonly believed alternating Wenckebach periods may be a tachycardia-dependent phenomenon occurring above, below or outside the A-V node and explaining a variety of spontaneous or electrically induced arrhythmias whose significance depends on the clinical setting in which they occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-859
Number of pages7
JournalThe American Journal of Cardiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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