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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Aggravation of postcardioversion atrial dysfunction by sotalol.

OBJECTIVES. This study determined the effect of sotalol on atrial function after electrical cardioversion of atrial fibrillation. BACKGROUND. After electrical cardioversion of atrial fibrillation, the Doppler mitral A wave is often diminished, representing impaired atrial contractile function. Sotalol is an effective atrial antiarrhythmic drug with class III and beta-adrenergic blocking properties. Although the negative inotropic effect of sotalol on the ventricle is minimal in patients with normal ventricular function, it may manifest negative inotropy when ventricular function is impaired. We postulated that after cardioversion, when intrinsic atrial function is impaired, sotalol may have an adverse effect on the atrium. METHODS. Thirty-seven patients enrolled in a randomized, double-blind study of sotalol for maintenance of sinus rhythm were studied by quantitative Doppler echocardiography within 24 h of electrical cardioversion and, for those still in sinus rhythm, again at 1 month. Doppler variables (E and A wave velocities and integrals) in patients receiving sotalol were compared with those in patients receiving placebo. RESULTS. After electrical cardioversion, peak A wave velocity and A wave time-velocity integral in the 20 patients receiving placebo were reduced compared with normal values. In the 17 patients receiving sotalol (median dose 320 mg twice daily) these variables were further reduced (mean [+/- SD] peak A wave velocity 19.4 +/- 5.5 vs. 38.4 +/- 14.7 cm/s, p < 0.001 and mean A wave time-velocity integral 1.7 +/- 0.6 vs. 3.4 +/- 1.4 cm, p < 0.001, in sotalol- vs. placebo-treated patients, respectively). Early diastolic filling (E wave variables) did not differ between sotalol- and placebo-treated groups. At 1 month, five sotalol- and six placebo-treated patients remained in sinus rhythm, and A wave variables had increased for the whole group, with a greater increase in sotalol-treated patients. CONCLUSIONS. After electrical cardioversion, when atrial stunning is prominent, sotalol has a negative atrial inotropic effect. This effect may be temporary, as suggested by resolution at 1 month. Negative inotropic effects of antiarrhythmic drugs on the atrium should be considered in assessing Doppler variables of left ventricular filling.[1]


  1. Aggravation of postcardioversion atrial dysfunction by sotalol. Pollak, A., Falk, R.H. J. Am. Coll. Cardiol. (1995) [Pubmed]
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