Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2000 Jul;9(7):1625-34.

D-Sotalol: death by the SWORD or deserving of further consideration for clinical use?

Author information

Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.


D-Sotalol is the dextro-rotatory isomer of sotalol and a class III anti-arrhythmic. D-Sotalol prolongs cardiac repolarisation by inhibiting the fast component of the delayed outward rectifying potassium channel. In animal studies, D-sotalol has been shown to be more effective in prolonging atrial, rather than ventricular, action potentials, suggesting that D-sotalol may be more effective against supra-ventricular than ventricular arrhythmias. Furthermore, in animal studies, D-sotalol induces after-depolarisations, which are predictors of pro-arrhythmic activity. D-Sotalol shows little or no reverse use dependence in animal and humans and has slow offset kinetics. This suggests that, in addition to being a preventative treatment for arrhythmias, D-sotalol may be effective at the start or during arrhythmia. As D-sotalol does not block the slow component of the delayed outward rectifying potassium channel, which is activated by the sympathetic nervous system, D-sotalol will not protect against sympathetic hyperactivity. D-Sotalol also has no effect on the K(ATP) channel, which is activated in ischaemia to shorten the action potential. Thus D-sotalol is less effective in ischaemia. Anti-arrhythmic activity with D-sotalol has been demonstrated in dog models of ventricular tachycardia and sudden death. Arrhythmias with D-sotalol have been demonstrated in an ischaemic guinea-pig ventricle model in the absence of action potentials. D-Sotalol is a weak beta-adrenoceptor antagonist and may also be a positive inotrope. In humans, D-sotalol has 100% systemic oral bioavailability, a terminal half-life of 7.2 h and is mainly excreted unchanged in the urine. Preliminary, mainly hospital-based, clinical trials showed that D-sotalol was effective in a variety of supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias. However, a large clinical trial of D-sotalol as a preventative treatment for arrhythmias and sudden death after myocardial infarction, the SWORD trial, was terminated early because of increased mortality with D-sotalol. The group at greatest risk was those with a remote myocardial infarction and relatively good left ventricular function, the group that showed the lowest mortality when untreated. It is assumed that excessive prolongation of the action potential leading to pro-arrhythmia with D-sotalol, underlies the increased risk of death. However, there is little objective evidence in the SWORD trial to support this. Obviously D-sotalol should not be used in humans with a remote myocardial infarction and relatively good left ventricular function. D-Sotalol could still be considered for short-term hospital use in resistant arrhythmias and for longer-term use to prevent atrial fibrillation in those with remote myocardial infarction and poor left ventricular function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Taylor & Francis
    Loading ...
    Support Center