Prevention of symptomatic recurrences of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in patients initially tolerating antiarrhythmic therapy. A multicenter, double-blind, crossover study of flecainide and placebo with transtelephonic monitoring. Flecainide Supraventricular Tachycardia Study Group

Circulation. 1989 Dec;80(6):1557-70. doi: 10.1161/01.cir.80.6.1557.


Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF) is a problematic clinical arrhythmia that is usually symptomatic. Unfortunately, few adequate trials and trial methods are available for assessment of the value of therapy, and traditional treatment has often been ineffective or associated with unacceptable side effects. Transtelephonic monitoring is a new method that allows evaluation of paroxysmal arrhythmias and arrhythmia-related symptoms in outpatients. We used a patient-initiated transtelephonic monitor system to evaluate the potential of flecainide, a class 1C antiarrhythmic, in prevention of symptomatic recurrences of PAF. Sixty-four patients qualified for the study (two or more PAF attacks documented within a 4-week baseline period) and entered a dose-finding phase to determine drug tolerance. Dose was incremented at weekly intervals from 200-300 and finally to 400 mg/day. The largest dose that was well tolerated was selected for the 4-month, double-blind, randomized, crossover comparison with placebo. Fifty-five patients entered and 53 received both treatments in the double-blind phase; 48 of these patients without protocol violations were evaluable for efficacy comparisons. Evaluable patients had undergone an average of 3.8 previous drug trials (range, 1-8); 30 were men, 18 had hypertension, and 14 had ischemic heart disease. The study demonstrated a highly significant correlation (p less than 0.0001) between perceived symptoms and documented PAF by transtelephonic monitoring. The rate of symptoms and PAF attacks was also significantly reduced by therapy (median dose, 300 mg/day). The first PAF attack occurred after a median of 3 days on placebo versus 14.5 days on flecainide (p less than 0.001) therapy. Similarly, the time interval between attacks was lengthened, from a median of 6.2 days on placebo to 27.0 days on flecainide (p less than 0.001) therapy. PAF was prevented in 15 patients (31%) during flecainide and four (9%) during placebo therapy (p = 0.013). However, during the study, 13 patients dropped out, seven because of adverse effects (five cardiac), five for other reasons, and one because of cardiac arrest/death. Adverse cardiac events occurred in a total of seven patients (11%) during flecainide therapy. Thus, transtelephonic monitoring is a useful method for documentation of the occurrence of paroxysmal arrhythmias such as PAF and its related symptoms during daily living and for assessment of new therapies in an outpatient setting.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Flecainide / administration & dosage
  • Flecainide / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Telephone*


  • Flecainide