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Am J Cardiol. 1984 Jul 30;54(2):14A-19A.

Rationale of therapy in the patient with acute myocardial infarction and life-threatening arrhythmias: a focus on bretylium.


Experimental evidence suggests a number of pathologic and electrophysiologic mechanisms that may help initiate ventricular arrhythmias accompanying myocardial ischemia and infarction. Early and late phase events are associated with reentry or an enhancement of focal mechanisms, or both. These can initiate ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF), or both. The presence of distinct mechanisms that may initiate and maintain life-threatening dysrhythmias early in myocardial ischemia suggest different pharmacologic approaches for their prevention or suppression. Another consideration concerns patients subjected to coronary artery angioplasty or thrombolytic therapy and the development of arrhythmias associated with reperfusion of the once ischemic myocardium. The electrophysiologic mechanisms associated with reperfusion arrhythmias are unknown, and little is known about appropriate therapy for each episode of cardiac dysrhythmia. Ventricular extrasystoles or VT usually precedes VF. These premonitory arrhythmias are poor criteria for the institution of antiarrhythmic drug therapy, because VF develops within 1 to 10 minutes after the appearance of the rhythmic disturbances. Some authorities suggest that all patients with acute myocardial infarction should receive prophylactic antiarrhythmic therapy, because warning arrhythmias either do not occur at all or provide insufficient time to intervene pharmacologically. Many of the new class I antiarrhythmic agents effectively reduce the frequency of premature ventricular depolarizations, but lack specific antifibrillatory activity. However, the recent introduction of bretylium into clinical cardiology opens a new approach to preventing life-threatening ventricular dysrhythmias. Along with other members of class III, bretylium exerts different cardiac electrophysiologic effects than do the other 3 classes of drugs.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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