Phenylephrine increases T wave shock energy required to induce ventricular fibrillation

Raul D. Mitrani, William M. Miles, Lawrence S. Klein, Douglas P. Zipes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: Previous reports in experimental models have suggested that ventricular fibrillation threshold (VFT) can be changed by manipulating cardiac neural tone using agents such as phenylephrine. The purpose of this study was to determine whether phenylephrine increased the energy required to induce VF in humans undergoing such induction using DC energy applied to the T wave. Methods and Results: In this prospective investigation, 18 consecutive patients with previously implanted cardioverter defibrillators had induction of VF by placing DC monophasic shocks into the T wave coupled 310 msec after the eighth paced ventricular complex at 400 msec. The T wave shock energy was titrated from 0.2 to 12 J until sustained VF or ventricular tachycardia was induced. Phenylephrine was infused either before the first or second VF induction in a randomized fashion to increase systolic blood pressure by more than 20 mmHg. The mean energy required to induce VF was 1.1 J at baseline and increased to 1.7 J during phenylephrine infusion (P = 0.036). The mean arterial pressure increased from 88 to 114 mmHg (P < 0.001), and the mean sinus cycle length increased from 850 to 1070 msec (P < 0.001). Ten of 13 (77%) patients with sinus cycle length prolongation had increased energy requirements to induce VF compared with only 1 of 5 patients (20%) without sinus cycle length prolongation (P < 0.05). Conclusion: Phenylephrine increases VFT in humans presumably by reflex activation of the baroreceptors decreasing sympathetic and/or increasing parasympathetic cardiac efferent effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


  • Phenylephrine
  • Ventricular fibrillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology


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