, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 47-54
Date: 19 Oct 2011

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Renin-Angiotensin System Inhibitors in the Prevention of Atrial Fibrillation Recurrences. An Unfulfilled Hope

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To analyze the published data on the role of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin II-receptor blockers (ARBs) in secondary prevention of AF. Some post-hoc analyses from trials in different clinical scenarios suggested the efficacy of ACEIs and ARBs in the prevention of new onset atrial fibrillation (AF), while their efficacy in preventing AF recurrences is notably controversial.


The authors reviewed all published prospective, randomized vs. placebo or no-treatment studies, concerning the effect of ACEIs and ARBs in the prevention of AF recurrences. Four ACEIs studies accounting for a total of 355 patients and six ARBs studies comprising 4.040 patients were analyzed.


The pooled ACEIs data showed a statistical significant effect in preventing AF recurrences. However, the studies did not have a robust follow-up algorithm to recognize AF episodes, and were individually very small. On the contrary, pooled ARBs data did not show any effect in preventing AF recurrences (RR 0.90; 95% CI, 0.75–1.08; p = 0.24). The ARBs analyzed population was much larger in three large prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-control trials with transtelephoning monitoring of AF recurrences and neutral results. The meta-analysis of ACEIs and ARBs trials together could suggest a publication bias that may result in an overestimation of the treatment effect.


Currently there is no role for ARBs in secondary prevention of AF. With regard to ACEIs, the data are not strong enough for a conclusion, although the efficacy is expected to be the same as that of ARBs.