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Clin Cardiol. 2001 Mar;24(3):238-44.

Factors predicting success rate and recurrence of atrial fibrillation after first electrical cardioversion in patients with persistent atrial fibrillation.

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Department of Cardiology, South Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.



The recurrence rate of atrial fibrillation (AF) after elective cardioversion is high.


The study aimed to identify clinical predictors for successful electrical cardioversion and maintenance of sinus rhythm after a first electrical cardioversion in patients with persistent AF without concomitant antiarrhythmic drugs of class I and III.


Consecutive outpatients (n = 166) with persistent AF for > 1 month, scheduled for elective cardioversion, were prospectively included in the study. A clinical investigation, echocardiographic assay, and Holter electrocardiogram (ECG) before and ECG 4 weeks after cardioversion, were performed in all patients.


The mean age of the patients was 68 years (range 45-83) and duration of AF was 5 (1-48) months. Sinus rhythm was established in 124 (75%) patients. In multivariate analysis, only duration of AF < 6 months (p < 0.04, odds ratio [OR] 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1 to 4.7) and patients weight (p < 0.03, OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.1 to 4.8 for weight < 80 kg) were identified as independent predictors of successful cardioversion. At 4 weeks after cardioversion, only 46 (37%) of 124 patients maintained sinus rhythm. Independent factors for maintenance of sinus rhythm, in multivariate analysis, were AF <3 months (p < 0.04, OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 5.6), treatment with beta blockers (p < 0.00001, OR 7.0, 95% CI 3.0 to 16.3) or verapamil/diltiazem (p < 0.04, OR 3.6, 95% CI 1.1 to 12.1), and right atrial dimension < 37 mm (p < 0.02, OR 5.9, 95% CI 1.4 to 25.4).


In patients with persistent AF, the patient's weight and the duration of AF are independent predictors for a successful cardioversion. Short duration of AF, treatment with beta blockers or verapamil/diltiazem, and right atrial area/dimension are independent predictors for maintenance of sinus rhythm.

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