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Frequency of Toxicity With Chemical Conversion of Atrial Fibrillation With Dofetilide

      Dofetilide is a class III antiarrhythmic agent approved for the maintenance of sinus rhythm in patients with persistent atrial fibrillation (AF). The goal of this study was to determine if chemical cardioversion (CCV) suggests a greater sensitivity to dofetilide and, therefore, portends a higher risk of proarrhythmia. We analyzed 99 consecutive patients with persistent AF who were loaded on dofetilide before cardioversion. CCV occurred after 2 ± 1.5 doses of dofetilide in 46 patients whereas electrical cardioversion (ECV) was required in the remaining 53 patients after 4.7 ± 1.3 doses. During index hospitalization, there were higher rates of dofetilide discontinuation because of QT prolongation or torsades de pointes (TdP) in the CCV group compared with the ECV group (24% vs 2%, p = 0.001). All patients with CCV requiring drug discontinuation converted after a single dose of dofetilide. Additionally, all 3 patients with TdP were in the CCV group. Furthermore, 15 of the 21 patients with CCV (71%) who converted after the first dose of dofetilide developed significant QT prolongation, requiring dose adjustment or discontinuation of drug. Among patients discharged on drug, AF recurrence and drug discontinuation rates were similar between groups at 2-year follow-up. In patients hospitalized for initiation of dofetilide, CCV occurs in almost 50% and is associated with higher rates of pathologic QT prolongation and TdP compared with those who require ECV. Once discharged on dofetilide, safety and efficacy is similar in both groups. In conclusion, patients with CCV may require closer monitoring for proarrhythmia.
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