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Clonidine for Patients with Rapid Atrial Fibrillation

Arie Roth, MD; Edo Kaluski, MD; Shlomo Felner, MD; Karin Heller, MD; and Shlomo Laniado, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Requests for Reprints: Arie Roth, MD, Department of Cardiology, Tel Aviv-Sourasky Medical Center, 6 Weizman Street, Tel Aviv 64239, Israel.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Roth, Kaluski, Heller, and Laniado: Tel Aviv-Sourasky Medical Center, 6 Weizman Street, Tel Aviv 64239, Israel.


From Tel-Aviv-Sourasky Medical Center and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv, Israel. For current author addresses, see end of text.†Deceased.


© 1992 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1992;116(5):388-390. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-116-5-388
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Objective: To determine whether clonidine can slow ventricular rate in patients with rapid atrial fibrillation.

Design: Randomized, controlled trial, with a 4-hour follow-up period.

Setting: Emergency room of a university hospital.

Patients: A consecutive sample of 18 hemodynamically stable patients who were evaluated or treated for rapid atrial fibrillation. Exclusion criteria included acute or terminal illness; current use of antiarrhythmic agents, calcium-channel blockers, or beta-blockers; excessive hypertension; pulmonary, valvular, or pericardial disease; and electrolyte imbalance.

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive either "no treatment" (control group) or clonidine, 0.075 mg orally, at baseline and after 2 hours if heart rate did not decrease by at least 20%.

Measurements: Blood pressure was measured by the same nurse in the same arm for 4 consecutive hours, and a full 12-lead electrocardiographic evaluation was done.

Main Results: Heart rate decreased to below 100 beats/min in eight of nine patients receiving clonidine compared with two of nine patients in the control group. The difference in the mean decreases in heart rate was 38 beats/min (95% Cl, 20 to 56 beats/min). Six patients who were treated with clonidine and one patient in the control group reverted to normal sinus rhythm. Systolic blood pressure decreased slightly in both groups, without significant differences. Clinical follow-up was uneventful.

Conclusion: Low-dose clonidine was an easy, efficient, and effective treatment for patients with rapid atrial fibrillation who were hemodynamically stable.

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