Objectives: The primary objective of the present study was to assess the efficacy of metoprolol CR/XL to reduce the risk of relapse after cardioversion of persistent atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm.
Background: Indirect data from studies with d,l sotalol provide evidence that the beta-blocking effects of the compound are important in maintaining sinus rhythm after cardioversion of atrial fibrillation.
Methods: After successful conversion to sinus rhythm, 394 patients with a history of persistent atrial fibrillation were randomly assigned to treatment with metoprolol CR/XL or placebo. The two treatment groups were similar with respect to all pretreatment characteristics. Patients were seen on an outpatient basis for recording of resting electrocardiogram (ECG) after one week, one, three and six months of follow-up or whenever they felt that they had a relapse into atrial fibrillation or experienced an adverse event.
Results: In the metoprolol CR/XL group, 96 patients (48.7%) had a relapse into atrial fibrillation compared with 118 patients (59.9%) in the placebo group (p = 0.005). Heart rate in patients after a relapse into atrial fibrillation was significantly lower in the metoprolol group (98 +/- 23 beats/min) than in the placebo group (107 +/- 27 beats/min). The rate of adverse events reported was similar in both groups when the difference in follow-up time was taken into account.
Conclusions: The results of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study in patients after cardioversion of persistent atrial fibrillation showed that metoprolol CR/XL was effective in preventing relapse into atrial fibrillation or flutter.