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Pharmacological Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation: Mechanisms of Action and Efficacy of Class III Drugs

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Atrial fibrillation represents a major clinical, social and economical matter, and its importance is expected to increase even more in the near future. The progressive ageing of population is associated with an inevitable rising in incidence and prevalence of this rhythm disorder, which limits functional capability, favours occurrence of cerebrovascular events and increases people's request for emergency room visits and hospital recovery.

In spite of the increasing successes of the interventional non-pharmacological therapies, drug treatment of patients with atrial fibrillation in relation to conversion to sinus rhythm and prevention of recurrences, maintains a critical role. Several antiarrhythmic drugs are nowadays available, but their efficacy is limited by the high rate of arrhythmias recurrences and by side effects during acute and chronic treatment.

Drugs interfering with potassium channels (Class III drugs) have been proposed and used in patients with atrial fibrillation. Aim of this review is to discuss the most recent data on the efficacy and feasibility of class III drugs in atrial fibrillation. Experimental and clinical data on dronedarone, ibutilide, dofetilide, azimilide, ersentilide and ambasilide will be hereby discussed.

Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; arrhythmic drugs; inward potassium current; myocardial potassium channels; pro-arrhythmia

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Cardiologia, Dipartimento di Medicina, Chirurgia e Odontoiatria, Osp. San Paolo, University of Milan, via A. di Rudinì 8, 20142 Milan, Italy.

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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