Twenty-two patients with coronary artery disease and spontaneous ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF) underwent intracardiac electrophysiologic evaluation and, when possible, ambulatory monitoring before and after therapy with flecainide (mean dose 418 ± 87 mg [mean ±standard deviation]). An average of 4 antiarrhythmic agents were used and were unsuccessful before therapy with flecainide was begun. During 64 ± 16 hours of control Holter monitoring in 16 patients, all had 1 or more salvos of VT, as well as ventricular premature complexes (VPCs). Programmed stimulation during the control period induced VT in 17 of 22 patients. After flecainide therapy, Holter monitoring showed elimination of all forms of VT in all but 1 patient, as well as significant reduction of paired VPCs by 95% (p < 0.03) and single VPCs by 70% (p < 0.005). Electrophysiologic study during flecainide therapy showed significant increases in AH, HV, PR, QRS and QTc intervals, and the ventricular effective refractory period. Programmed stimulation in 17 patients taking flecainide, with a mean plasma level of 1,075 ± 521 ng/ml, showed ablation of inducible VT in only 2 patients, a worsening in 5 and continued VT inducibility in 10. Adverse effects that required drug withdrawal were infrequent and encountered in patients who received higher drug levels: 1 patient with congestive heart failure and 1 with severe sinus bradycardia. Thus, although flecainide suppresses complex ventricular arrhythmias on Holter recordings, it rarely alters the response to programmed stimulation. Caution is recommended in its use for recurrent sustained VT or VF and in the interpretation of electrophysiologic studies until the predictive value of programmed stimulation with flecainide therapy is established.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine