The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of ibutilide, a class III antiarrhythmic drug, for acute treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF) in the emergency department (ED) setting. A retrospective analysis was done reviewing all patients with AF who received ibutilide in the ED in a university hospital setting. A total of 22 patients received ibutilide. Another 24 patients who received rate control drugs only served as a control group. Of the 22 patients who received ibutilide, 14 (64%) converted to sinus rhythm. The mean (SD) rate of AF was 137 (24) bpm and the mean QTc interval immediately after conversion to sinus rhythm was 420 (28) ms. There were no complications. In the rate control group 7 patients (29%) converted to sinus rhythm (p<0.05, compared with ibutilide). The mean rate of AF was 126 (26) bpm (p = ns, compared with ibutilide) and the mean QTc interval in those who converted was 377 (28) ms (p<0.05, compared with ibutilide). One patient developed severe bradycardia. Ibutilide is effective for conversion of recent onset AF in patients presenting to the ED and there is a low rate of complications from ibutilide in this setting.
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Competing interests: none declared
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