, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 27-34
Date: 30 Mar 2010

Digitalis Does not Improve Left Atrial Mechanical Dysfunction After Successful Electrical Cardioversion of Chronic Atrial Fibrillation

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This study was designed to investigate whether administration of digitalis could improve mechanical function of left atrial appendage (LAA) and left atrium prospectively in patients with atrial stunning. Fifty-four consecutive patients in whom atrial stunning was observed immediately after cardioversion of chronic atrial fibrillation (AF) were randomized into digitalis or control group for 1 week following cardioversion. Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) were performed prior to, immediately following, 1 day after and 1 week after cardioversion to measure transmitral flow velocity and LAA flow velocity. Electrical cardioversion of AF elicited significantly slower left atrial appendage peak emptying velocity (LAA-PEV) and peak filling velocity (LAA-PFV) immediately following cardioversion in both groups. 1 day post cardioversion, there were no significant differences in transmitral E wave, A wave, E/A ratio, LAA-PEV, LAA-PFV or left atrial appendage ejection fraction (LAA-EF) between digitalis and control groups. 1 week post cardioversion, no significant differences were found in transmitral E wave, A wave, E/A ratio, LAA-PEV, LAA-PFV or LAA-EF between the two groups. The occurrence rates of spontaneous echo contrast were not significantly different between digitalis and control groups one day and one week post cardioversion. In conclusion, digitalis did not improve left atrial and appendage mechanical dysfunction following cardioversion of chronic AF. Digitalis did not prevent the development of spontaneous echo contrast in left atrial chamber and appendage. This may be due to the fact that digitalis aggravates intracellular calcium overload induced by chronic AF and has a negative effect on ventricular rate.