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      The Role of Amiodarone in Recent-Onset Atrial Fibrillation after Ibutilide Has Failed to Restore Sinus Rhythm


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          Background: Ibutilide is a class III antiarrhythmic drug that is used for the cardioversion of atrial arrhythmias, but it can cause torsades de pointes. Amiodarone is also used for the cardioversion of atrial fibrillation and prolongs the QT interval but rarely causes torsades de pointes. Methods and Results: The study included 51 consecutive patients with recent onset atrial fibrillation in whom the administration of ibutilide failed to restore sinus rhythm. In those patients we decided to proceed to intravenous administration of amiodarone. The QT intervals were measured on 12-lead ECG. After 11 ± 5 h of the administration of the amiodarone, 42 patients (82%) were on sinus rhythm. There was no episode of non-sustained torsades de pointes or hypotension that followed the administration of the two antiarrhythmic agents. Conclusions: The administration of amiodarone in the case of ibutilide failure may be a useful adjunct to current cardioversion protocols for recent onset atrial fibrillation.

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          Most cited references 8

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          Agreement and reproducibility of automatic versus manual measurement of QT interval and QT dispersion.

          To determine whether the automatic measurement of the QT interval is consistent with the manual measurement, this study evaluated the reproducibility and agreement of both methods in 70 normal subjects and 54 patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The mean, minimum, and maximum QT interval and QT dispersion were computed in a set of 6 consecutive electrocardiograms (3 in the supine and 3 in the standing position) obtained from each subject. The automatic method determined the T-wave end as the intersect of the least-squares-fit line around the tangent to the T-wave downslope with the isoelectric baseline. Manual measurements were obtained using a high-resolution digitizing board. QT dispersion was defined as the difference between the maximum and minimum QT interval and as standard deviations of the QT interval duration in all and precordial leads. In patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the absolute values of the QT interval and QT dispersion were significantly higher than those in normal subjects (p < 0.0001). In both groups, the intrasubject variability of the QT interval was significantly lower with automatic than with manual measurement (p < 0.05). The agreement between automatic and manual QT interval measurements was surprisingly poor, but it was better in patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (r2 = 0.46 to 0.67) than in normal subjects (r2 = 0.10 to 0.25). In both groups, the reproducibility and agreement of both methods for QT dispersion were significantly poorer than for QT interval. Hence, the automatic QT interval measurements are more stable and reproducible than manual measurement, but the lack of agreement between manual and automatic measurement suggests that clinical experience gained with manual assessment cannot be applied blindly to data obtained from the automatic systems.
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            Pharmacological Cardioversion of Atrial Fibrillation

            Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common form of arrhythmia, carrying high social costs. It is usually first seen by general practitioners or in emergency departments. Despite the availability of consensus guidelines, considerable variations exist in treatment practice, especially outside specialised cardiological settings. Cardioversion to sinus rhythm aims to: (i) restore the atrial contribution to ventricular filling/output; (ii) regularise ventricular rate; and (iii) interrupt atrial remodelling. Cardioversion always requires careful assessment of potential proarrhythmic and thromboembolic risks, and this translates into the need to personalise treatment decisions. Among the many clinical variables that affect strategy selection, time from onset is crucial. In selected patients, pharmacological cardioversion of recent-onset AF can be a safely used, feasible and effective approach, even in internal medicine and emergency departments. In most cases of recent-onset AF, pharmacological cardioversion provides an important--and probably more cost effective--alternative to electrical cardioversion, which can then be employed as a second-line therapy for nonresponders. Class IC agents (flecainide or propafenone), which can be safely used in hospitalised patients with recent-onset AF without left ventricular dysfunction, can provide rapid conversion to sinus rhythm after either intravenous administration or oral loading. Although intravenous amiodarone requires longer conversion times, it is still the standard treatment for patients with heart failure. Ibutilide also provides good conversion rates and could be used for AF patients with left ventricular dysfunction (were it not for high costs). For long-lasting AF most pharmacological treatments have only limited efficacy and electrical cardioversion remains the gold standard in this setting. However, a widely used strategy involves pretreatment with amiodarone in the weeks before planned electrical cardioversion: this provides optimal prophylaxis and can sometimes even restore sinus rhythm. Dofetilide may also be capable of restoring sinus rhythm in up to 25-30% of patients and can be used in patients with heart failure. The potential risk of proarrhythmia increases the need for careful therapeutic decision making and management of pharmacological cardioversion. The results of recent trials (AFFIRM [Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management] and RACE [Rate Control versus Electrical Cardioversion for Persistent Atrial Fibrillation]) on rate versus rhythm control strategies in the long term have led to a generalised shift in interest towards rate control. Although carefully designed studies are required to better define the role of pharmacological rhythm control in specific AF settings, this alternative option remains a recommendable strategy for many patients, especially those in acute care.
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              Ibutilide added to propafenone for the conversion of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter


                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                May 2007
                06 February 2007
                : 107
                : 4
                : 399-401
                Cardiology Department, General Hospital of Karditsa, Karditsa, Greece
                99059 Cardiology 2007;107:399–401
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Tables: 2, References: 12, Pages: 3
                Original Research


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