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 [≥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. These agents may be useful in the management of patients with recurrent symptomatic AF who have unsuccessful conventional therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine