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Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2012 Apr;26(2):167-79. doi: 10.1007/s10557-012-6374-4.

Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of cardioversion by vernakalant and comparators in patients with atrial fibrillation.

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Merck & Co., Inc, Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA.



Rate and rhythm control are two well established treatment objectives for atrial fibrillation (AF) patients. While symptom reduction is a primary treatment goal, therapeutic practice related to cardioversion varies by region and patient, with several precautions associated with the use of current therapies. No comprehensive literature review on the relative efficacy of existing cardioversion approaches compared to newly available therapies has been conducted.


A systematic literature review and meta-analysis were undertaken to evaluate the efficacy of pharmacologic therapies in eliciting cardioversion within 2 and 8-24 h among patients with recent-onset, short duration AF. Eligible studies included randomized controlled trials in which cardioversion rates were evaluated in at least 2 treatment groups. Bayesian mixed-treatment comparisons estimated odds ratios (95% credible intervals) for successful cardioversion. Results within 2 h showed vernakalant IV, propafenone IV and flecainide (IV and oral) were more efficacious in pair-wise comparisons to placebo. Results were mixed in analyses comparing efficacy rates between 8 and 24 h. Few adverse events were reported, with the most common being bradycardia and hypotension.


In pair-wise comparisons of active treatment arms to one another, results suggest vernakalant IV, propafenone IV and flecainide appear to be effective in achieving rapid cardioversion in patients with short duration AF compared to other agents. Application of these findings to clinical practice need to account for the variable comorbidity profiles of patients, important determinants in the selection of appropriate therapy for individual patients. Though best practice methods were used, further research comparing treatments through direct head-to-head comparisons may be warranted to confirm these findings and further inform clinical practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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