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Am J Cardiol. 1996 Nov 1;78(9):975-9.

Efficacy and safety of procainamide in preventing arrhythmias after coronary artery bypass surgery.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Maryland Medical System, Baltimore, USA.


Arrhythmias are common after cardiac surgery and are associated with hemodynamic compromise, stroke, and prolonged hospitalization. Beta blockers prevent atrial fibrillation postoperatively, but there are few data regarding the prophylactic use of type 1 antiarrhythmic agents or the prevention of ventricular arrhythmias. Accordingly, we performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effects of oral procainamide on 100 patients undergoing elective coronary artery bypass surgery. Procainamide was received for 4 days; the dosage was adjusted for body weight. Patients receiving procainamide had a significant reduction in atrial fibrillation (16 vs 29 patient-days, p < 0.05) and ventricular tachycardia (2% vs 20%, p < 0.01). However, the incidence of atrial fibrillation was not significantly reduced (38% vas 26%). In the group achieving therapeutic serum procainamide levels, there was reduction in all measured postoperative arrhythmias. No serious cardiac or noncardiac adverse events were noted during procainamide therapy, although there was a significant increase in the incidence of nausea. We conclude that procainamide reduces arrhythmias in the early postoperative period after coronary artery bypass surgery, most prominently in patients who achieve therapeutic serum levels. This was associated with no serious cardiac adverse reactions.

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