Antiarrhythmics: multinational consensus recommendations

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  • A group of international societies has released consensus recommendations as a guide to antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs), including guidance for specific patient populations. 
  • Societies involved in or endorsing the consensus: European Heart Rhythm Association, European Society of Cardiology Working Group on Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Heart Rhythm Society, Asia-Pacific Heart Rhythm Society, and International Society of Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy.

Why this matters

  • Authors note that AADs can involve significant adverse events and say that the classification that most clinicians use to determine therapy has “minimal clinical relevance.”


  • Recommendation categories are visually easy to distinguish: a red heart means “Should NOT be used/recommended,” yellow means “May be used/recommended,” green means “Recommended/indicated.” 
  • Recommendations for decision-making include noting limited indications for current AADs (eg, symptom alleviation, avoiding malignant arrhythmia), cautions (AADs not to be used to avoid oral anticoagulants), and follow-up (eg, ECG scheduling).
  • Monitoring should include considering acute and chronic risks separately.
  • Individualizing includes recommendations for patients with structural heart disease with/without Afib, renal disease, syncope history, preexisting QRS >130 ms (caution warranted), and pregnancy (options limited, maternal-fetal medicine consult possibly needed).
  • Recommendations by type of arrhythmia also included, ie, ventricular arrhythmia with/without structural heart disease, premature atrial beats, supraventricular arrhythmia Afib, atrial flutter, patients with devices.
  • Safety issues are key; recommendations address what to watch for (eg, proarrhythmias) and monitoring for thyrotoxicosis.