, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 165-173
Date: 17 Aug 2012

Non-Antiarrhythmic Drugs to Prevent Atrial Fibrillation

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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most frequent arrhythmia found in clinical practice. The majority of patients with AF are still candidates for antiarrhythmic drug treatment, not only for acute reversion to sinus rhythm but also for long-term treatment to prevent recurrences of AF. Currently available antiarrhythmic drugs, however, are unable to provide complete efficacy in all patients, and present problematic risks of proarrhythmia.

The progressively increasing prevalence of AF supports the need to develop improved therapeutic approaches for the clinical management of arrhythmia. Accordingly, new treatment techniques aimed at suppressing the origin of the arrhythmogenic foci have been developed in the last decade. However, ablative treatments are only available for selected patients.

Because of these factors, and also because primary prevention of AF should be our goal, the introduction of non-antiarrhythmic agents that could prevent both new-onset AF and recurrences of AF may eventually improve patient outcomes and reduce the incidence of this epidemic disease. The potential clinical value of these non-antiarrhythmic options is currently under active investigation.

There is now clinical and experimental evidence that many drugs may have beneficial effects in preventing AF through several possible mechanisms. Non-antiarrhythmic drugs, such as ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), corticosteroids, and N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may have a positive effect in patients with AF or in preventing AF in patients at risk.