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Critical Care Research and Practice
Volume 2014, Article ID 826286, 7 pages
Clinical Study

Suitability, Efficacy, and Safety of Vernakalant for New Onset Atrial Fibrillation in Critically Ill Patients

1Cardiosurgical Intensive Care Unit, Institute of Anesthesiology, University Hospital Zurich, Raemistrasse 100, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland
2Clinic for Cardiology, University Heart Center, University Hospital Zurich, Raemistrasse 100, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland
3Clinic for Cardiac and Vascular Surgery, University Hospital Zurich, Raemistrasse 100, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland

Received 18 February 2014; Accepted 17 April 2014; Published 12 May 2014

Academic Editor: Robert Boots

Copyright © 2014 Alain Rudiger et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives. This study investigates the suitability, safety, and efficacy of vernakalant in critically ill patients with new onset atrial fibrillation (AF) after cardiac surgery. Methods. Patients were screened for inclusion and exclusion criteria according to the manufacturers’ recommendations. Included patients were treated with 3 mg/kg of vernakalant over 10 min and, if unsuccessful, a second dose of 2 mg/kg. Blood pressure was measured continuously for 2 hours after treatment. Results. Of the 191 patients screened, 159 (83%) were excluded, most importantly due to hemodynamic instability (59%). Vernakalant was administered to 32 (17% of the screened) patients. Within 6 hours, 17 (53%) patients converted to sinus rhythm. Blood pressure did not decrease significantly 10, 30, 60, and 120 minutes after the vernakalant infusion. However, 11 patients (34%) experienced a transient decrease in mean arterial blood pressure <60 mmHg. Other adverse events included nausea ( ) and bradycardia ( ). Conclusions. Applying the strict inclusion and exclusion criteria provided by the manufacturer, only a minority of postoperative ICU patients with new onset AF qualified for vernakalant. Half of the treated patients converted to sinus rhythm. The drug was well tolerated, but close heart rate and blood pressure monitoring remains recommended.