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Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2007 Aug 31;59(9-10):940-51. Epub 2007 Jun 28.

Circadian rhythms in cardiac arrhythmias and opportunities for their chronotherapy.

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Hypertension Center, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Ferrara, via Savonarola 9, I-44100 Ferrara, Italy.


It is now well established that nearly all functions of the body, including those that influence the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of medications, exhibit significant 24-hour variation. The electrical properties of the heart as well as cardiac arrhythmias also vary as circadian rhythms, even though the suboptimal methods initially used for their investigation slowed their identification and thorough characterization. The application of continuous Holter monitoring of the electrical properties of the heart has revealed 24-hour variation in the occurrence of ventricular premature beats with the peak in events, in diurnally active persons, between 6 a.m. and noon. After the introduction of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, ventricular tachycardia or fibrillation were also found to peak in the same period of the day. Even defibrillator energy requirements show circadian variation, thus supporting the need for a temporal awareness in the therapeutic approach to arrhythmias. Imbalanced autonomic tone, circulating levels of catecholamines, increased heart rate and blood pressure, all established determinants of cardiac arrhythmias, show circadian variations and underlie the genesis of the circadian pattern of cardiac arrhythmias. Arrhythmogenesis appears to be suppressed during nighttime sleep, and this can influence the evaluation of the efficacy of antiarrhythmic medications in relation to their administration time. Unfortunately, very few studies have been undertaken to assess the proper timing (chronotherapy) of antiarrhythmic medications as means to maximize efficacy and possibly reduce side effects. Further research in this field is warranted and could bring new insight and clinical advantage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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