Antiarrhythmic drugs for the maintenance of sinus rhythm: Risks and benefits.
Int J Cardiol. 2011 Jun 25;
Authors: Camm J
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia seen in clinical practice, and its complications impose a significant economic burden. The development of more effective agents to manage patients with AF is essential. While clinical trials show no major differences in outcomes between rate and rhythm control strategies, some patients with AF require treatment with antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs) to maintain sinus rhythm, reduce symptoms, improve exercise tolerance, and improve quality of life. Currently available AADs, while effective, have limitations including limited efficacy, adverse events, toxicity, and proarrhythmic potential. The 6 most commonly used AADs (amiodarone, disopyramide, dofetilide [USA but not Europe], flecainide, propafenone, sotalol) have proarrhythmic effects (fewer with amiodarone). Amiodarone is the most effective AAD, but its safety profile limits its usefulness. Recent advances in AAD therapy include dronedarone and vernakalant. Dronedarone, approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Authority and others, has been proven efficacious in maintaining sinus rhythm and reducing the incidence of hospitalization due to cardiovascular events or death in patients with AF. The intravenous formulation of vernakalant is approved in the European Union, Iceland, and Norway. Oral vernakalant is currently undergoing evaluation for preventing AF recurrence and appears to be effective with an acceptable safety profile. Treatment should be individualized to the patient with consideration of pharmacologic risks and benefits according to AF management guidelines. Accumulating efficacy and safety data for new and emerging AADs holds promise for improved AF management and outcomes.
PMID: 21708411 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]