"Rate-Drop Response" Cardiac Pacing for Vasovagal Syncope

David G. Benditt, Richard Sutton, Michael Gammage, Toby Markowitz, Joanne Gorski, Gary Nygaard, Joseph Fetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Recent reports suggest that cardiac pacing incorporating a rate-drop response algorithm is associated with a reduction in the frequency of syncopal episodes in patients with apparent cardioinhibitory vasovagal syncope. The detection portion of the algorithm employs a programmable heart rate change-time duration "window" to both identify abrupt cardiac slowing suggestive of an imminent vasovagal event and trigger "high rate" pacing. The purpose of this study was to develop recommendations for programming the rate-drop response algorithm. Pacemaker programming, symptom status, and drug therapy were assessed retrospectively in 24 patients with recurrent vasovagal syncope of sufficient severity to warrant consideration of pacemaker treatment. In the 53±19 months prior to pacing, patients had experienced an approximate syncope burden of 1.2 events/month. During follow-up of 192±160 days, syncope recurred in 4 patients (approximate syncope burden, 0.3 events/month, p < 0.05 vs. pre-pacing), and presyncope in 5 patients. In these patients, rate-drop response parameters were initially set based on electrocardiographic and/or tilt-table recordings, and were re-programmed at least once in 14 (58%) individuals. A 20 beat/min window height (top rate minus bottom rate), a window width of 10 beats (61% of patients), and 2 or 3 confirmation beats (79% of patients) appeared to be appropriate in most patients. Treatment intervention rate was set to >100 beats/min in 89% of patients, with a duration of 1 to 2 min in 79%. In conclusion, a narrow range of rate-drop response parameter settings appeared to be effective for most individuals in this group of highly symptomatic patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Algorithm
  • Cardiac pacemaker
  • Vasovagal syncope


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