Antiarrhythmic use from 1991 to 2007: Insights from the Canadian Registry of Atrial Fibrillation (CARAF I and II)
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BACKGROUND: The pharmacologic management of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia, has been traditionally dichotomized into control of ventricular rate or re-establishment and maintenance of sinus rhythm. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of rate-controlling drugs and antiarrhythmic drugs (AAD) in the Canadian Registry of Atrial Fibrillation (CARAF) over a 16-year period from 1991 through 2007. METHODS: 1,400 patients with new-onset paroxysmal AF who were enrolled in CARAF were included in this analysis. We assessed trends in ventricular rate-controlling medication use (digoxin, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers) and AAD (class IA, IC, and III antiarrhythmic agents) at baseline and follow-up visits as well as by calendar year. RESULTS: AAD use increased initially from 1991 to 1994 (peak use 42.5%) before steadily declining. Sotalol use decreased (27% to 6%), whereas amiodarone use increased (1.6% to 17.9%). Rate-controlling medication use decreased from 1991 to 1995 (54.1% to 34.1%) due to declining digoxin use (62.9% to 16.3%). After 1999, there was a continued increase in rate-controlling medication use (peak use 52.5% in 2007) due to increased beta-blocker use (17% to 45.7%). Calcium channel blockers use changed little over the duration of the study. CONCLUSION: The management of AF has undergone significant shifts since 1990, reflecting the influence of drug development, prevailing belief systems, the impact of large clinical trials, and evidence-based recommendations. Monitoring of pharmacotherapy trends will provide insight into the real-world application of evidence-based guidelines as well as allow the opportunity to identify deficiencies and improve patient care.
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