Stockholm, Sweden, 31 August: DANPACE, a Danish multicentre randomised trial comparing single lead atrial and dual chamber pacing in patients with sick sinus syndrome, concludes that dual chamber pacing, which was associated with lower rates of atrial fibrillation and re-operation, "should be the preferred pacing mode".
Behind the conclusion lies a 20-site study of 1415 subjects with sick sinus syndrome (a variety of arrhythmias caused by a malfunction of the sinus node, the heart's principal pacemaker) referred for their first pacemaker implantation. Pacemakers are routinely used to treat patients suffering from sick sinus syndrome.
The patients were randomised equally to single-lead atrial or dual-chamber pacemakers* and their progress followed for a mean of 6.4 years, producing over 7000 operational years of evidence. Results showed that all-cause mortality rates were similar in both groups, 29.6% in the single-lead atrial pacemaker group and 27.3% in the dual chamber group. However, the prevalence of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation was lower in the dual chamber group than in the single-lead group (HR 0.79, p=0.024), with significantly fewer dual chamber patients requiring pacemaker re-operation during follow-up (HR 0.50, p<0.001).
Summarising the outcome, principal investigator Dr Jens Cosedis Nielsen from the Department of Cardiology, Skejby Hospital in Aarhus, Denmark, said: “The results showed that, when compared with dual-chamber pacing, single-lead atrial pacing was associated with a 27% increase in the risk of developing atrial fibrillation and a doubling of the risk of having to undergo a pacemaker re-operation.
“In prior trials, ventricular stimulation has been found to increase the incidences of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. However, in this patient group we demonstrated for the first time that dual-chamber pacing actually decreases atrial fibrillation and has no influence on the incidence of heart failure when compared with single-lead atrial pacing without ventricular stimulation.”
* Cardiac pacemakers provide a battery-driven electrical impulse to regulate heart rate and rhythm. The most common indications are severe bradycardia (an irregularly slow heart rate resulting from abnormal sinus node function) or impaired conduction conditions. Pacemakers consist of a pulse generator (the implanted battery) and flexible leads which are usually placed in the right atrium or right ventricle. These "single-lead" pacemakers are the most commonly used. In dual chamber pacemakers wires are placed in two chambers of the heart; one paces the atrium and one paces the ventricle. This type is said to more closely resemble the natural pacing of the heart.
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