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Am Heart J. 2004 Oct;148(4):641-8.

Amiodarone versus sotalol for the treatment of atrial fibrillation after open heart surgery: the Reduction in Postoperative Cardiovascular Arrhythmic Events (REDUCE) trial.

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  • 1Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, Neb 68131, USA.



This prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study compared the efficacy and safety of amiodarone and sotalol in the prevention of atrial fibrillation (AF) following open heart surgery.


The incidence of supraventricular arrhythmias following open heart surgery ranges from 20% to 40%, with AF being the most common. Both amiodarone and sotalol have been shown to be effective in reducing postoperative arrhythmias, but no direct comparison of these agents has been conducted.


A total of 160 patients were randomized, of whom 134 underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) alone, 17 underwent CABG and concomitant aortic valve replacement surgery (AVR), 9 underwent AVR only, and 1 patient's surgery was canceled. Patients with signs or symptoms of congestive heart failure (CHF), ejection fraction < or =30%, estimated creatinine clearance <30 mL/min, or serum creatinine > or =2.5 mg/dL were excluded. Patients were randomized to receive either sotalol 80 mg 2 times per day (n = 76) or intravenous amiodarone 15 mg/kg over 24 hours followed by oral amiodarone 200 mg 3 times per day (n = 83). Study drug was started at the time of surgery and continued for 7 days or until discharge, whichever came first.


AF occurred in 17% of patients randomized to amiodarone and 25% of the patients randomized to sotalol (P =.21). However, the duration of AF was significantly shorter in amiodarone-treated patients (169 +/- 224 min) compared to sotalol treated patients (487 +/- 505 min; P =.04). In a subgroup analysis, the incidence of AF in patients undergoing AVR or CABG with AVR was significantly less with amiodarone (1/15, 7%) compared to sotalol (9/11, 82%) (P <.001). Blood pressure was lower immediately after surgery with amiodarone but comparable to sotalol at 24 hours. Of the hemodynamic indices measured, only stroke volume was significantly lower in patients randomized to sotalol at 24 hours (P =.035).


Amiodarone and sotalol share similar efficacy and safety in reducing postoperative AF. Hemodynamic effects were similar between both drugs at 24 hours, with the exception that stroke volume was lower in sotalol-treated patients. In patients undergoing more complex surgery, postoperative AF occurred more frequently with sotalol than with amiodarone.

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