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Br J Pharmacol. 2012 May;166(2):554-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01818.x.

Verapamil as an antiarrhythmic agent in congestive heart failure: hopping from rabbit to human?

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Department of Medical Physiology, Division Heart & Lungs, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Repolarization-dependent cardiac arrhythmias only arise in hearts facing multiple 'challenges' affecting its so-called repolarization reserve. Congestive heart failure (CHF) is one such challenge frequently observed in humans and is accompanied by altered calcium handling within the contractile heart cell. This raises the question as to whether or not the well-known calcium channel antagonist verapamil acts as an antiarrhythmic drug in this setting, as seen in arrhythmia models without CHF. According to the study of Milberg et al. in this issue of BJP, the answer is yes. The results of this study, using a rabbit CHF model, raise important questions. First, given that the model combines CHF with a number of other interventions that predispose towards arrhythmia, will similar conclusions be reached in a setting where CHF is a more prominent proarrhythmic challenge; second, what is the extent to which other effects of calcium channel block would limit the clinical viability of this pharmacological approach in CHF? In vivo studies in large animal CHF models are now required to further explore this interesting, but complex, approach to the treatment of arrhythmia. LINKED ARTICLE This article is a commentary on Milberg et al., pp. 557-568 of this issue. To view this paper visit

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