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Int J Clin Pract. 2010 Jul;64(8):1062-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02229.x.

First time and repeat cardioversion of atrial tachyarrhythmias - a comparison of outcomes.

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  • 1Cardiology Department, Eastbourne General Hospital, Eastbourne, UK.



Repeat cardioversion may be necessary in over 50% of patients with persistent atrial fibrillation (AF), but identifying responders remains challenging. This study evaluates the long-term success of direct current cardioversion (DCCV) and the clinical and echocardiographical parameters that influence them, in over 1000 sedation-cardioversion procedures undertaken at Eastbourne General Hospital between 1996 and 2006.


A total of 770 patients of mean age (SD) 70.1(10.1) underwent 1013 DCCVs (first n = 665, repeat n = 348) for atrial tachyarrhythmias from 1996 to 2006. Time to persistent arrhythmia recurrence was compared between first and multiple DCCV, and the effect of age, gender, presence of heart disease, left atrial size, fractional shortening, arrhythmia duration, anti-arrhythmic drug therapy (AAD) and other concomitant cardiac medication was evaluated using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox's Proportional-hazards model.


In all, 33% of first and 29% of repeat DCCVs were in sinus rhythm (SR) at 12 months (m). There was no difference in median time to arrhythmia recurrence (SE) between first and multiple procedures: 1.5 +/- 0.1 m (1.3-1.7) and 1.5 +/- 0.0 m (1.4-1.6) respectively, p = 0.45. AAD use was significantly higher, arrhythmia duration shorter and more diabetic patients underwent repeat procedures. Amiodarone, OR 0.56, p = 0.04, sotalol, OR 0.61, p = 0.02 and arrhythmia duration, < 6 m, OR 0.72, p = 0.03 were independent predictors of improved outcome in first procedures only. In patients undergoing first procedures on amiodarone or sotalol, median time to arrhythmia recurrence was longer and 12 m SR rates higher, 6.0 +/- 2.4 m (42%) than those who had a repeat procedure on the same medication, 1.5 +/- 0.1 m (33%), p = 0.06.


The efficacy of first and subsequent DCCV procedures is similar, achieving a similar proportion of SR maintenance at 1 year. However, the benefits of AAD therapy are the greatest following first time procedures. Concomitant AAD therapy should be considered for all first time procedures for persistent AF.

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