Continuous use of amiodarone for atrial fibrillation better than episodic use

October 14, 2008 7:56 AM CT

A study in the October 15 issue of JAMA indicates that reducing how often a patient receives amiodarone for atrial fibrillation does not decrease side effects, but does increase atrial fibrillation recurrence and the risk of death and hospitalizations.

Researchers at the University of Groningen, in The Netherlands, conducted a study to determine if episodic treatment with amiodarone — stopping and re-starting it — could effectively suppress atrial fibrillation. The results were not good.

Those in the episodic group had more atrial fibrillation recurrences, at 80 percent vs. 54 percent for those in the continuous treatment group, and deaths and cardiovascular hospitalizations were higher among those receiving episodic treatment, at 53 percent vs. 34 percent.

The researchers concluded that episodic amiodarone treatment is not recommended due to a higher risk of hospitalization and death in patients with persistent atrial fibrillation.

Read: Lessening medication for atrial fibrillation does not reduce side effects