Cardiac Cellular Pharmacology: Automaticity in Cardiac Muscle—Its Alteration by Physical and Chemical Influences

  • Francis M. Weld
  • J. Thomas BiggerJr.


The heart rhythmically and spontaneously activates itself many times in a minute. The process responsible for this behavior has been termed the “normal automatic mechanism” and is a property of only a few cell types in the heart. Cells in the sinoatrial node, atrioventricular rings, and ventricular specialized conducting tissues possess the capacity for automaticity of this type whereas ordinary atrial and ventricular muscle cells do not. This mechanism not only is the basis for normal cardiac rhythmicity but also can generate arrhythmias in the heart. Although the normal automatic mechanism is complex and probably varies somewhat in different types of automatic cells and in different species, much is now known about the cell membrane behavior which underlies automaticity and about alterations in this behavior caused by a variety of physical and chemical influences. In this chapter, it is our intention to discuss the factors which generate and modify the automaticity brought about in heart muscle by spontaneous diastolic depolarization.


Outward Current Sodium Current Sinoatrial Node Purkinje Fiber Ventricular Muscle 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis M. Weld
    • 1
  • J. Thomas BiggerJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Medicine, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology, College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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