It is the occurrence of supraventricnlar arrhythmias, usually atrial fibrillation anti atrial flutter, folk)wing an acute alcoholic binge in chronic alcoholics. These are usually transient.
It was James Mackenzie, a Scottish general practitioner working in Burnley, England, utilizing an ink-polygraph to record and label jugular venous pulses, who pioneered the deciphering of normal and
abnormal cardiac rhythms. His key observation that the jugular 'a' wave disappeared in a patient who
went from a normal to an irregular rhythm provided the first insight into the mechanism of atrial fibrillation.
In 1924, Willem Einthoven (1860-1927) of Leyden University, The Netherlands, was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the mechanism of electrocardiography (Am J CardJo11994; 7:]: 384-9).
In 1909, Lewis in England and Rothberger and Winterberg in Vienna, taking advantage of Einthoven's
newly developed string galvanometer, were the first to establish electrocardiographically that auricular
fibrillation was the cause of pulsus irregularis perpetuus.
Rodney Falk is Professor of Cardiology at Boston University. He trained in England and his main interests are amyloidosis and atrial fibrillation.