Contemporary real life cardioversion of atrial fibrillation: Results from the multinational RHYTHM-AF study

Harry J. G. M. Crijns*, Bob Weijs, Anna-Meagan Fairley, Thorsten Lewalter, Aldo P. Maggioni, Alfonso Martin, Piotr Ponikowski, Marten Rosenqvist, Prashanthan Sanders, Mauricio Scanavacca, Lori D. Bash, Francois Chazelle, Alexandra Bernhardt, Anselm K. Gitt, Gregory Y. H. Lip, Jean-Yves Le Heuzey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Aims: Electrical and pharmacological cardioversion (ECV, PCV) are important treatment options for symptomatic patients with recent onset atrial fibrillation (AF). RHYTHM-AF is an international registry of present-day cardioversion providing information that is not currently available on country differences and acute and long-term arrhythmia outcomes of ECV and PCV. Methods and results: 3940 patients were enrolled, of whom 75% underwent CV. All patients were followed for 2 months. There were large variations concerning mode of CV used, ECV being heterogeneous. A choice of PCV drug depended on the clinical patient profile. Sinus rhythm was restored in 89.7% of patients by ECV and in 69.1% after PCV. Among patients not undergoing CV during admission, 34% spontaneously converted to sinus rhythmwithin 24 h. ECV was most successful in patients pretreated with antiarrhythmic drugs (mostly amiodarone). PCV was enhanced by class Ic antiarrhythmic drugs; conversion rate on amiodarone was similar to that seen with rate control drugs. Female patients and those with paroxysmal and first detected AF as well as those without previous ECV responded well to PCV. The median duration of hospital stay was 16.2 and 24.0 h for ECV and PCV patients, respectively. There were very few CV-related complications regardless of mode of CV. Chronic maintenance of sinus rhythm was enhanced in patients on chronic antiarrhythmic drugs, beta-blockers or inhibitors of the renin-angiotensin system. Conclusions: Mode of CV varied significantly, but both PCV and ECV were safe and effective. Class Ic drugs were most effective conversion drugs, but amiodarone is used most frequently despite providing merely rate control rather than shorten time to conversion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)588-594
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Cardioversion
  • Rhythm control
  • Stroke

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