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Treatment restores normal heart rhythm in patients

Treatment restores normal heart rhythm in all study patients with atrial fibrillation

ANN ARBOR---Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System's Division of Cardiology restored normal heart rhythms in 100 percent of study patients with atrial fibrillation through treatment with an ibutilide fumarate injection prior to an electrical shock to the heart. The successful findings appear today in the June 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

More than 2 million adults suffer with atrial fibrillation---rapid irregular heart contractions originating in the upper chambers of the heart. Atrial fibrillation can cause blood to pool, forming clots that could travel to the brain and result in a stroke. According to the American Heart Association, about 15 percent of strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation. Stroke is the nation's third-leading cause of death and the No. 1 cause of adult disability, according to the National Stroke Association.

While atrial fibrillation is not usually life-threatening, it can lead to decreased cardiac output, congestive heart failure and low blood pressure.

"Since atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm) observed in patients who visit a primary care setting, it is important to improve our understanding of the options available for treatment," says S. Adam Strickberger, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and a study co-author. "The results of this study suggest that the use of ibutilide injection and cardioversion (electrical shock) represents an important new treatment option for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation."

Typically, doctors use electrical current alone to convert or "shock" the heart into a more normal rhythm. For this study, the investigators used a step-up protocol of electrical shock energy to determine the minimum energy required for successful cardioversion. In 20 percent of patients who we
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Contact: Andi McDonnell
734-764-2220
University of Michigan
17-Jun-1999


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