Amiodarone versus propafenone for conversion of chronic atrial fibrillation: results of a randomized, controlled study

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1999 Mar 15;33(4):966-71. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(98)00678-0.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy and safety of amiodarone and propafenone in the conversion of chronic atrial fibrillation in a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study.

Background: The effectiveness of amiodarone and propafenone in the treatment of patients with chronic atrial fibrillation has not been adequately studied.

Methods: One hundred one patients (48 men, mean age 64 +/- 9 years) with atrial fibrillation lasting >3 weeks participated in the study. Thirty-four patients received amiodarone (300 mg intravenously over 1 h, followed by 20 mg/kg over the next 24 h plus 600 mg orally, in three doses, for 1 week, then 400 mg/day orally, for three weeks), 32 received propafenone (2 mg/kg intravenously over 15 min, followed by 10 mg/kg over 24 h and then 450 mg/day orally, for one month) and the remaining 35 served as control subjects. All patients received digoxin and anticoagulant treatment as indicated (International Normalized Ratio 2 to 3).

Results: Conversion to sinus rhythm was achieved in 16 (47.05%) patients who received amiodarone, in 13 (40.62%) who received propafenone and in none of the control subjects (p < 0.001 for both groups vs. control subjects). Those who converted had smaller atria than those who did not and atrial fibrillation of shorter duration in both the amiodarone and propafenone groups. Treatment was discontinued in one patient of the propafenone group because of significant QRS widening.

Conclusions: Amiodarone and propafenone appear to be safe and equally effective in the termination of chronic atrial fibrillation. Left atrial diameter and arrhythmia duration are independent predictors of conversion.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amiodarone / adverse effects
  • Amiodarone / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Propafenone / adverse effects
  • Propafenone / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Propafenone
  • Amiodarone