Front Cardiovasc Med. 2022 Apr 11;9:843939. doi: 10.3389/fcvm.2022.843939. eCollection 2022.
BACKGROUND: Whether early pharmacologic cardioversion is necessary for recent-onset atrial fibrillation is still controversial. Current meta-analyses were limited to evaluating the effects within 24 h without sufficient considering longer follow-up outcomes. We aimed to compare the effect of early pharmacologic cardioversion and non-early cardioversion in patients with recent-onset atrial fibrillation within 4-weeks of follow-up.
METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PubMed, Web of Science, ClinicalTrials.gov, and Clinicaltrialsregister. eu for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published before November 2021 comparing early pharmacologic cardioversion and non-early cardioversion in recent-onset atrial fibrillation and synthesized data in accordance with PRISMA-Systematic Reviews and Network Meta-Analysis (NMA). Early pharmacological cardioversion referred to immediate cardioversion with antiarrhythmic drugs (i.e., amiodarone, propafenone, flecainide, tedisamil, vernakalant, vanoxerine, and sotalol) upon admission, while non-early cardioversion involved the administration of rate-control or placebo medication without immediate cardioversion.
RESULTS: 16 RCTs with 2,395 patients were included. Compared to non-early cardioversion, a systematic review showed that early pharmacologic cardioversion resulted in a higher probability of sinus rhythm maintenance within 24 h (odds ratios [OR] 2.50, 95% credible interval [CrI] 1.76 to 3.54) and 1-week (2.50, 1.76 to 3.54), however, there was no significant difference in sinus rhythm maintenance within 4-weeks (1.37, 0.90 to 2.09). In subgroup analysis, the Bayesian NMA revealed that vernakalant may be successful in sinus rhythm maintenance within both 24 h (3.55, 2.28 to 5.55) and 1-week (2.72, 1.72 to 4.31). The results were consistent with the frequentist NMA.
CONCLUSIONS: Non-early pharmacologic cardioversion may not be inferior to early cardioversion within a 4-week follow-up period in patients with recent-onset atrial fibrillation. The evidence remains insufficient to determine which antiarrhythmic agent is optimal in the longer run. Further high-quality relevant RCTs are necessary.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42020166862.