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Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 1998 Mar;12(1):75-81.

Conversion of atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm using acute intravenous procainamide infusion.

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Cardiology Department, University Hospital of Heraklion, Crete, Greece.


The efficacy and safety of intravenous procainamide in the conversion of atrial fibrillation was investigated. A total of 114 patients without severe heart failure were randomized to receive either intravenous procainamide (1 g over 30 minutes, followed by an infusion of 2 mg/min over 1 hour) or placebo in a double-blind trial. Digoxin (0.5 mg intravenously) was administered to all patients who had not previously been receiving digoxin. Treatment was considered successful if sinus rhythm was restored within 1 hour after starting the infusion. Conversion to sinus rhythm was achieved in 29 (50.9%) of the 57 patients treated with procainamide and in 16 (28.1%) of the 57 who received placebo (P approximately 0.012). When the duration of the atrial fibrillation was < or = 48 hours, conversion to sinus rhythm was achieved in 29 (69%) of the 42 patients receiving procainamide and in 16 (38.1%) of those receiving placebo (P approximately 0.004). None of the patients with atrial fibrillation lasting > or = 48 hours converted to sinus rhythm in either group. Another factor that played a role in the restoration of sinus rhythm was the size of the left atrium: the smaller the left atrium, the larger the success rate. The results of the study suggest that intravenous procainamide is an effective and safe means for the rapid termination of atrial fibrillation of recent onset and that its success rate is inversely related to the size of the left atrium. However, the drug is ineffective in the conversion of atrial fibrillation lasting more than 48 hours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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