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What will be the pulse rate in a patient who has ventricular bigeminy in ECG ?

Posted May 18 2010 10:07am 1 Comment

What will be the pulse rate in a patient who has ventricular bigeminy in ECG with a heart rate of 90 ( 45 sinus beats 45 VPDS/minute ) ?

A.Exactly Same as HR , ie 90/mt

 B.Exactly half of HR , ie  45/mt

C.Can be anything between 45 to 90/mt

D.Any of the above can be true

 The  answer is D . 

I have  noted  ,this simple question in cardiology resident examinations cause great anxiety among students .

Why is it difficult to arrive at an easy answer to this question ?

Traditionally , ventricular ectopic beat were also called extrasystole , implying every ectopic beat shall produce a peripheral pulse .Since ,  we learnt this is not true , we started refering them as VPDs.(Simple ventricular depolarisation which may or may not have a mechanical activity ) So , in a patient whose alternate beat is a VPD  , things become little complicated.

What determines a VPD to acquire  mechanical  energy  or simply  remain as an  electrical event ?

  •  Timing of the VPD* .
  • LV residual volume(LVEDV ) at the onset of  VPD
  • Force of contractility of LV( Of course ,  it is directly related to LVEDV)
  • Temporal relation to  aortic valve opening**

If  the VPD is too early or too late it can not have a mechanical activity . It should be optimally timed midway between two sinus beat to have a good mechnically active VPD. Some refer this as an interpolated VPD .Here, the VPD  becomes a  true extra systole for that individual. So , in patient with ventricualr bigeminy in ECG the pulse rate is usually half , can be same as HR when the coupling interval is optimal or it can be totally irregular as someof the  VPDS gain a mechanical activity and some do not (as often occurs multifocal VPDs. )

* Among the above  four factors timing of the VPDS is the most crucial as it can influence all the other three factors.

** Whatever be the timing or force of contraction aortic valve should be opened to generate a pulse wave. If for some reason this does not happen  there can be intermittent mechanial activity what  we refer to as pulse deficit .

Read a related phenomenon:  Ventricular  paired pacing


Comments (1)
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Can having these types of beats constantly as ones regular beat be dangerous.  I was at the ER last night and the ekg they gave me came up with bigeminy It was my pattern for the whole test (however it was just a basic 1min ekg test) . The doc. did not seem concerned at all, was he correct in saying so.  Can these be simple picked up on a stethoscope, i was in to my family doc. today and he listened to my heart and said it sounded perfect (could not hear any abnormal beats/pvcs). Also not to worry about my test, he is going to send me to a cardiologist as protocol he said when any patient has any irregular beats on their ekg test. thanks for any advice

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