Special problems with antiarrhythmic drugs in the elderly: safety, tolerability, and efficacy.
ABSTRACT With advancing age, atrial fibrillation is increasingly likely to indicate underlying cardiovascular disease and risk. An understanding of this is particularly important in the elderly patient, where likely triggers to atrial fibrillation and the influence of other pathologies on the safety and efficacy of proposed treatments will all contribute to optimal care of these patients. It is not yet clear whether rate control or cardioversion to sinus rhythm is the best strategy for the generality of patients with atrial fibrillation, and still less so for individuals. Age and comorbidity add complexities to this decision, which should inform the choice of drugs to be used. Further uncertainties arise from a literature that has often excluded elderly patients and derived its conclusions about mode of drug action from studies undertaken during sinus rhythm rather than atrial fibrillation. Despite these difficulties the careful evaluation of elderly patients with atrial fibrillation and their involvement in relevant choices should ensure optimum treatment for the individual.
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ABSTRACT: Because conventional antiarrhythmic therapy is often ineffective in maintaining sinus rhythm or is associated with adverse side effects in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), there is a clinical need to test newer agents. One hundred patients with AF who had unsuccessful therapy with 1.9 +/- 1.0 type IA antiarrhythmic agents were randomized to receive either propafenone (n = 50) or sotalol (n = 50). Patients were stratified into 4 groups based on AF pattern (chronic vs paroxysmal) and left atrial size (large [> or = 4.5 cm] vs small [< 4.5]). The proportion of patients remaining in sinus rhythm on each agent was calculated for each group by the Kaplan-Meier method. For patients randomized to propafenone, 46 +/- 8%, 41 +/- 8% and 30 +/- 8% remained in sinus rhythm at 3, 6 and 12 months, respectively, after cardioversion. A similar proportion of patients treated with sotalol remained in sinus rhythm at follow-up (49 +/- 7%, 46 +/- 8% and 37 +/- 8% at 3, 6 and 12 months, respectively; p = NS). The proportion of patients remaining in sinus rhythm on propafenone and sotalol was not dependent on arrhythmia pattern or left atrial dimension. Except for constipation that occurred more frequently in patients treated with propafenone, adverse side effects were equally distributed between the 2 therapies. Two patients receiving sotalol died during follow-up. Propafenone and sotalol, 2 new antiarrhythmic agents, were found to be equally effective in maintaining sinus rhythm in 100 patients with recurrent AF. Response rates were not affected by arrhythmia pattern, left atrial size or unsuccessful prior drug therapy.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)The American Journal of Cardiology 03/1993; 71(7):558-63. · 3.21 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Spontaneous conversion of recent onset paroxysmal atrial fibrillation to normal sinus rhythm occurs commonly and is not affected by low-dose amiodarone treatment. In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 100 patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation of recent onset (<48 h) we compared the effects of treatment with continuous intravenous amiodarone 125 mg per hour (total 3 g) and intravenous placebo. Patients in the placebo group who did not convert to normal sinus rhythm within 24 h were started on amiodarone therapy. Conversion to normal sinus rhythm occurred within 24 h in 32 of 50 patients (64%) in the placebo group, most of whom converted within 8 h. Lower conversion rates were observed in patients with hypertension, ischaemic heart disease or congestive heart failure and in patients with echocardiographic findings of left atrial diameter above 45 mm, ejection fraction below 45% or significant mitral regurgitation. However, in most patients these clinical or echocardiographic risk factors of decreases in conversion rate were not present. In such patients the spontaneous conversion rate was approximately 90%. The conversion rate during 24 h of treatment in the amiodarone group was 92% (P=0.0017, compared to the placebo group). In this group, the conversion rate was largely unaffected by baseline characteristics. Of the 18 patients who did not convert with placebo, 15 (85%) converted after being crossed over to amiodarone. All patients not responding to high-dose amiodarone were in chronic atrial fibrillation within 1 month. In patients still in atrial fibrillation after 8 h of treatment, the pulse rate decreased significantly more in the amiodarone as compared to the placebo group (83+/-15 vs 114+/-20 beats. min(-1), P=0.0014). The spontaneous conversion of recent onset paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is high and approaches 90% in specific clinical and echocardiographically defined subgroups. Intravenous high-dose amiodarone safely facilitates conversion of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. However, such treatment should be reserved for patients with unfavourable risk factor profiles, not converting during 8 h of observation or requiring rate control.European Heart Journal 12/1999; 20(24):1833-42. · 14.10 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Atrial fibrillation is the most commonly encountered sustained cardiac arrhythmia. Restoration and maintenance of sinus rhythm is believed by many physicians to be superior to rate control only. However, there are no prospective data that compare both therapeutic strategies. The Pharmacological Intervention in Atrial Fibrillation (PIAF) trial was a randomised trial in 252 patients with atrial fibrillation of between 7 days and 360 days duration, which compared rate (group A, 125 patients) with rhythm control (group B, 127 patients). In group A, diltiazem was used as first-line therapy and amiodarone was used in group B. The primary study endpoint was improvement in symptoms related to atrial fibrillation. Over the entire observation period of 1 year, a similar proportion of patients reported improvement in symptoms in both groups (76 responders at 12 months in group A vs 70 responders in group B, p=0.317). Amiodarone administration resulted in pharmacological restoration of sinus rhythm in 23% of patients. Walking distance in a 6 min walk test was better in group B compared with group A, but assessment of quality of life showed no differences between groups. The incidence of hospital admission was higher in group B (87 [69%] out of 127 vs 30 [24%] out of 125 in group A, p=0.001). Adverse drug effects more frequently led to a change in therapy in group B (31 [25%] patients compared with 17 [14%] in group A, p=0.036). With respect to symptomatic improvement in patients with atrial fibrillation, the therapeutic strategies of rate versus rhythm control yielded similar clinical results overall. However, exercise tolerance is better with rhythm control, although hospital admission is more frequent. These data may serve as a basis to select therapy in individual patients.The Lancet 12/2000; 356(9244):1789-94. · 39.06 Impact Factor