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Concept: Amiodarone


We sought to describe the management of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) in Europe after the release of the 2010 AF Guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology.METHODS AND RESULTS: The PREFER in AF registry enrolled consecutive patients with AF from January 2012 to January 2013 in 461 centres in seven European countries. Seven thousand two hundred and forty-three evaluable patients were enrolled, aged 71.5 ± 11 years, 60.1% male, CHA2DS2VASc score 3.4 ± 1.8 (mean ± standard deviation). Thirty per cent patients had paroxysmal, 24.0% had persistent, 7.2% had long-standing persistent, and 38.8% had permanent AF. Oral anticoagulation was used in the majority of patients: 4799 patients (66.3%) received a vitamin K antagonist (VKA) as mono-therapy, 720 patients a combination of VKA and antiplatelet agents (9.9%), 442 patients (6.1%) a new oral anticoagulant drugs (NOAC). Antiplatelet agents alone were given to 808 patients (11.2%), no antithrombotic therapy to 474 patients (6.5%). Of 7034 evaluable patients, 5530 (78.6%) patients were adequately rate controlled (mean heart rate 60-100 bpm). Half of the patients (50.7%) received rhythm control therapy by electrical cardioversion (18.1%), pharmacological cardioversion (19.5%), antiarrhythmic drugs (amiodarone 24.1%, flecainide or propafenone 13.5%, sotalol 5.5%, dronedarone 4.0%), and catheter ablation (5.0%).CONCLUSION: The management of AF patients in 2012 has adapted to recent evidence and guideline recommendations. Oral anticoagulant therapy with VKA (majority) or NOACs is given to over 80% of eligible patients, including those at risk for bleeding. Rate is often adequately controlled, and rhythm control therapy is widely used.

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Standard deviation, Anticoagulant, Amiodarone, Cardioversion, Vitamin K, Flecainide


Background Antiarrhythmic drugs are used commonly in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest for shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia, but without proven survival benefit. Methods In this randomized, double-blind trial, we compared parenteral amiodarone, lidocaine, and saline placebo, along with standard care, in adults who had nontraumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia after at least one shock, and vascular access. Paramedics enrolled patients at 10 North American sites. The primary outcome was survival to hospital discharge; the secondary outcome was favorable neurologic function at discharge. The per-protocol (primary analysis) population included all randomly assigned participants who met eligibility criteria and received any dose of a trial drug and whose initial cardiac-arrest rhythm of ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia was refractory to shock. Results In the per-protocol population, 3026 patients were randomly assigned to amiodarone (974), lidocaine (993), or placebo (1059); of those, 24.4%, 23.7%, and 21.0%, respectively, survived to hospital discharge. The difference in survival rate for amiodarone versus placebo was 3.2 percentage points (95% confidence interval [CI], -0.4 to 7.0; P=0.08); for lidocaine versus placebo, 2.6 percentage points (95% CI, -1.0 to 6.3; P=0.16); and for amiodarone versus lidocaine, 0.7 percentage points (95% CI, -3.2 to 4.7; P=0.70). Neurologic outcome at discharge was similar in the three groups. There was heterogeneity of treatment effect with respect to whether the arrest was witnessed (P=0.05); active drugs were associated with a survival rate that was significantly higher than the rate with placebo among patients with bystander-witnessed arrest but not among those with unwitnessed arrest. More amiodarone recipients required temporary cardiac pacing than did recipients of lidocaine or placebo. Conclusions Overall, neither amiodarone nor lidocaine resulted in a significantly higher rate of survival or favorable neurologic outcome than the rate with placebo among patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest due to initial shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and others; number, NCT01401647 .).

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Cardiac arrest, Ventricular tachycardia, Supraventricular tachycardia, Amiodarone, Ventricular fibrillation, Defibrillation


Cardioversion remains an important therapy in the management of atrial fibrillation. Here, we report a case where direct current cardioversion resulted in a sudden dramatic change of heart rate that was associated with multiple ventricular fibrillation arrests in a manner akin to that previously observed post-atrioventricular node ablation. (PACE 2012;35:e361-e364).

Concepts: Scientific method, Cardiology, Heart, Atrial fibrillation, Direct current, Amiodarone, Defibrillation, DC offset


The present studies explored the intrinsic vasorelaxant and inotropic effects of the mixed potassium and sodium channel blocker atrial antiarrhythmic vernakalant and the Class IC antiarrhythmic agent flecainide in human isolated subcutaneous resistance artery and ventricular trabecular muscle preparations. At test concentrations encompassing free plasma concentrations associated with clinical efficacy for conversion of atrial fibrillation, vernakalant (1-10 μM) displayed no significant direct effects on human resistance artery tone or ventricular contractility. In contrast, tested at equimolar concentrations, flecainide significantly reduced peak isometric contractile force (10 μM) and maximal rates of force development and decline (3 and 10 μM) in the human ventricular muscle preparation while displaying no significant effect on human resistance artery tone. The lack of effects of vernakalant on human resistance artery tone and ventricular muscle contractile function suggest that direct vasorelaxant and inotropic effects do not underlie the rare hypotensive events observed clinically with vernakalant, raising the possibility that secondary (e.g. reflex) effects may mediate these events. The demonstration of negative inotropic effects with flecainide in the human ventricular muscle preparations in the absence of an effect on resistance artery tone suggests that the hemodynamic effects of flecainide observed clinically result primarily from direct negative inotropic effects.

Concepts: Heart, Atrial fibrillation, Antiarrhythmic agent, Amiodarone, Antiarrhythmic agents, Flecainide


Objectives. Recent-onset (duration ≤ 1 week) atrial fibrillation (AF) has a high rate of spontaneous conversion to sinus rhythm (SR); still anti-arrhythmic drugs (AAD) are given for conversion purposes. We assessed the effect of AADs by reviewing the literature regarding conversion rates of available drugs in a systematic manner. Design. PubMed searches were performed using the terms “drug name”, “atrial fibrillation”, and “clinical study/RCT”, and a list of 1302 titles was generated. These titles, including abstracts or complete papers when needed, were reviewed for recent-onset of AF, the use of a control group, and the endpoint of SR within 24 hours. Postoperative and intensive care settings were excluded. Results. Five AADs were demonstrated to have an effect, and these were Amiodarone, Ibutilide (only one study and risk of torsade de pointes), Flecainide and Propafenone (only to be used in patients without structural heart disease) and Vernakalant. The time taken for conversion differed markedly; Vernakalant converted after 10 minutes, while Amiodarone converted only after 24 hours; Propafenone and Flecainide had conversion times in-between. Conclusions. For a rapid response in a broad group of patients, Vernakalant appears to be a reasonable first choice, while Flecainide and Propafenone can be used in patients without structural heart disease.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Heart, Atrial fibrillation, Ventricular tachycardia, Antiarrhythmic agent, Amiodarone, Antiarrhythmic agents, Flecainide


Patients undergoing catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF) often experience recurrent arrhythmias within the first few months post-ablation. We aimed to investigate whether short-term use of amiodarone to prevent early arrhythmias following radiofrequency ablation for AF could reduce later recurrence.

Concepts: Medical terms, Atrial fibrillation, Cardiac arrest, Cardiac electrophysiology, Amiodarone, Recurrence relation, Radiofrequency ablation, Cardiac dysrhythmia


Background Current guidelines recommend pulmonary-vein isolation by means of catheter ablation as treatment for drug-refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Radiofrequency ablation is the most common method, and cryoballoon ablation is the second most frequently used technology. Methods We conducted a multicenter, randomized trial to determine whether cryoballoon ablation was noninferior to radiofrequency ablation in symptomatic patients with drug-refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. The primary efficacy end point in a time-to-event analysis was the first documented clinical failure (recurrence of atrial fibrillation, occurrence of atrial flutter or atrial tachycardia, use of antiarrhythmic drugs, or repeat ablation) following a 90-day period after the index ablation. The noninferiority margin was prespecified as a hazard ratio of 1.43. The primary safety end point was a composite of death, cerebrovascular events, or serious treatment-related adverse events. Results A total of 762 patients underwent randomization (378 assigned to cryoballoon ablation and 384 assigned to radiofrequency ablation). The mean duration of follow-up was 1.5 years. The primary efficacy end point occurred in 138 patients in the cryoballoon group and in 143 in the radiofrequency group (1-year Kaplan-Meier event rate estimates, 34.6% and 35.9%, respectively; hazard ratio, 0.96; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.76 to 1.22; P<0.001 for noninferiority). The primary safety end point occurred in 40 patients in the cryoballoon group and in 51 patients in the radiofrequency group (1-year Kaplan-Meier event rate estimates, 10.2% and 12.8%, respectively; hazard ratio, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.52 to 1.18; P=0.24). Conclusions In this randomized trial, cryoballoon ablation was noninferior to radiofrequency ablation with respect to efficacy for the treatment of patients with drug-refractory paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, and there was no significant difference between the two methods with regard to overall safety. (Funded by Medtronic; FIRE AND ICE number, NCT01490814 .).

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Cardiac electrophysiology, Supraventricular tachycardia, Atrial flutter, Amiodarone, Digoxin, Radiofrequency ablation, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome


-Atrial fibrillation (AF) requires arrhythmogenic changes in atrial ion channels/receptors and usually altered atrial structure. AF is commonly treated with antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs); the most effective block many ion channels/receptors. Modest efficacy, intolerance, and safety concerns limit current AADs. We hypothesized that combining agents with multiple anti-AF mechanisms at reduced individual drug doses might produce synergistic efficacy plus better tolerance/safety.

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Cardiac electrophysiology, Atrial flutter, Amiodarone, Digoxin, Flecainide, Procainamide, Dronedarone


Suppressing perioperative inflammation and post-operative atrial fibrillation requires effective drug delivery platforms (DDP). Localized anti-inflammatory and anti-arrhythmic agent release may be more effective than intravenous treatment to improve patient outcomes. This study utilized a dexamethasone (DEX) and amiodarone (AMIO)-loaded Parylene-C (PPX) nano-structured film to inhibit inflammation and atrial fibrillation. The PPX film was tested in an established pericardial adhesion rabbit model. Following sternotomy, the anterior pericardium was resected and the epicardium was abraded. Rabbits were randomly assigned to five treatment groups: control, oxidized PPX (PPX-Oxd), PPX-Oxd infused with DEX (PPX-Oxd[DEX]), native PPX (PPX), and PPX infused with DEX and AMIO (PPX[AMIO, DEX]). 4 weeks post-sternotomy, pericardial adhesions were evaluated for gross adhesions using a 4-point grading system and histological evaluation for epicardial neotissue fibrosis (NTF). Atrial fibrillation duration and time per induction were measured. The PPX[AMIO, DEX] group had a significant reduction in mean adhesion score compared with the control group (control 2.75 ± 0.42 vs. PPX[AMIO, DEX] 0.25 ± 0.42, P < 0.001). The PPX[AMIO, DEX] group was similar to native PPX (PPX 0.38 ± 0.48 vs. PPX[AMIO, DEX] 0.25 ± 0.42, P[double bond, length as m-dash]NS). PPX-Oxd group adhesions were indistinguishable from controls (PPX-Oxd 2.83 ± 0.41 vs. control 2.75 ± 0.42, P[double bond, length as m-dash]NS). NTF was reduced in the PPX[AMIO, DEX] group (0.80 ± 0.10 mm) compared to control (1.78 ± 0.13 mm, P < 0.001). Total duration of atrial fibrillation was decreased in rabbits with PPX[AMIO, DEX] films compared to control (9.5 ± 6.8 s vs. 187.6 ± 174.7 s, p = 0.003). Time of atrial fibrillation per successful induction decreased among PPX[AMIO, DEX] films compared to control (2.8 ± 1.2 s vs. 103.2 ± 178 s, p = 0.004). DEX/AMIO-loaded PPX films are associated with reduced perioperative inflammation and a diminished atrial fibrillation duration. Epicardial application of AMIO, DEX films is a promising strategy to prevent post-operative cardiac complications.

Concepts: Heart, Redox, Atrial fibrillation, Antiarrhythmic agent, Pericardium, Amiodarone, Digoxin, Flecainide


Background Recurrent ventricular tachycardia among survivors of myocardial infarction with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is frequent despite antiarrhythmic drug therapy. The most effective approach to management of this problem is uncertain. Methods We conducted a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial involving patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy and an ICD who had ventricular tachycardia despite the use of antiarrhythmic drugs. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either catheter ablation (ablation group) with continuation of baseline antiarrhythmic medications or escalated antiarrhythmic drug therapy (escalated-therapy group). In the escalated-therapy group, amiodarone was initiated if another agent had been used previously. The dose of amiodarone was increased if it had been less than 300 mg per day or mexiletine was added if the dose was already at least 300 mg per day. The primary outcome was a composite of death, three or more documented episodes of ventricular tachycardia within 24 hours (ventricular tachycardia storm), or appropriate ICD shock. Results Of the 259 patients who were enrolled, 132 were assigned to the ablation group and 127 to the escalated-therapy group. During a mean (±SD) of 27.9±17.1 months of follow-up, the primary outcome occurred in 59.1% of patients in the ablation group and 68.5% of those in the escalated-therapy group (hazard ratio in the ablation group, 0.72; 95% confidence interval, 0.53 to 0.98; P=0.04). There was no significant between-group difference in mortality. There were two cardiac perforations and three cases of major bleeding in the ablation group and two deaths from pulmonary toxic effects and one from hepatic dysfunction in the escalated-therapy group. Conclusions In patients with ischemic cardiomyopathy and an ICD who had ventricular tachycardia despite antiarrhythmic drug therapy, there was a significantly lower rate of the composite primary outcome of death, ventricular tachycardia storm, or appropriate ICD shock among patients undergoing catheter ablation than among those receiving an escalation in antiarrhythmic drug therapy. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and others; VANISH number, NCT00905853 .).

Concepts: Pharmacology, Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Ventricular tachycardia, Supraventricular tachycardia, Antiarrhythmic agent, Amiodarone, Ventricular fibrillation