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Prolonged Refractory Periods Prevent the Heart from Being Tetanized

FIGURE 5 Diversity of action potentials in four difference cardiac cells. The action potentials in difference regions of the heart have characteristic features. Note the significant differences between an action potential in an SA nodal cell and an action potential in a ventricular cell. (Modified from Katz AM. Physiology of the heart. New York: Raven Press, 1992.)

FIGURE 5 Diversity of action potentials in four difference cardiac cells. The action potentials in difference regions of the heart have characteristic features. Note the significant differences between an action potential in an SA nodal cell and an action potential in a ventricular cell. (Modified from Katz AM. Physiology of the heart. New York: Raven Press, 1992.)

diversity and specialization. Figure 5 illustrates action potentials recorded in several different regions of the heart. Action potentials in contractile and Purkinje cells are associated with a very rapid depolarizing phase and a broad plateau region. Both the rapidity of depolarization as well as the plateau phase are less prominent in action potentials recorded from nodal cells. None of these cells experiences a hyperpolarizing afterpotential, as is the case for action potentials in nerve and skeletal muscle cells. Finally, note that the phase 4 baseline is normally stable in contractile and Purkinje cells, but is not stable in the SA nodal cells.

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