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Clin Cardiol. 2003 Jul;26(7):329-35.

Intravenous amiodarone for cardioversion of recent-onset atrial fibrillation.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Postgraduate Medical School, Grochowski Hospital, Warsaw, Poland. cybulski@kkcmkp.pl



Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common causes of hospital admission, with a prevalence of up to 5% of the population, increasing with advancing age. Emergency direct current cardioversion is the therapy of choice when arrhythmia leads to hemodynamic compromise, but in patients who are hemodynamically stable, antiarrhythmic drugs are usually given to restore sinus rhythm.


The study was undertaken to assess the efficacy of intravenous amiodarone in cardioversion of recent-onset paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF). No standard antiarrhythmic therapy has been accepted for pharmacologic cardioversion of AF. Amiodarone seems to be a promising candidate, but only few randomized trials are available and the results are inconsistent.


In all, 160 patients with AF lasting < 24 h were randomly assigned (2:1 fashion) to the amiodarone group (n = 106) receiving 5 mg/kg as a 30 min intravenous (i.v.) infusion, followed by i.v. infusion of 10 mg/kg during 20 h diluted in 1000 ml of 10% glucose with 20 IU of rapid-action insulin, 80 mEq of potassium chloride, and 8 g of magnesium sulphate (GIKM), or to the control group (n = 54) receiving 1000 ml of GIKM alone. Treatment was continued up to 20 h independent of sinus rhythm restoration.


Sinus rhythm was restored 20 h after initiation of therapy in 88 (83%) patients in the amiodarone group and in 24 (44%) patients in the control group (p < 0.0001). The difference between efficacy of the two treatment modalities became significant already after 8 h of therapy (53 vs. 14 patients with sinus rhythm, respectively, p < 0.05). The mean dose of amiodarone administered until sinus rhythm restoration was 740 +/- 296 mg. The presence and the type of underlying heart disease did not influence the conversion rate in either group. In two patients (1.8%) treated with amiodarone, the return of sinus rhythm was preceded by asystole.


Amiodarone is effective in the termination of AF lasting < 24 h. It may be particularly useful in patients with organic heart disease in whom class I antiarrhythmic agents may be contraindicated. During treatment, the heart rhythm should be monitored continuously.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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