Use of calcium channel entry blockers in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias

Circulation. 1989 Dec;80(6 Suppl):IV31-9.


In clinical arrhythmias, the main therapeutic role of calcium channel entry blockers is related to their effect on the sinus and atrioventricular (AV) node. Consequently, in cardiac arrhythmias where the AV node is part of the reentry circuit, a beneficial effect of diltiazem and verapamil can be demonstrated. These include AV nodal reentry and orthodromic tachycardia in patients with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. In addition, the ventricular response by the AV node during atrial tachycardias can also be controlled with these agents. A specific type of ventricular tachycardia seen in the absence of structural heart disease has also been reported to respond to intravenous and oral verapamil. Calcium channel blockers have no proven depressant effect on accessory pathway conduction. Similarly, the value of these agents in the treatment of ventricular tachycardia in association with chronic coronary artery disease and idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy is rather limited. The use of calcium entry blockers in patients with wide QRS tachycardia, therefore, is to be discouraged unless it can be proved that supraventricular tachycardia with aberrant conduction is the underlying basis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / drug therapy*
  • Atrioventricular Node / drug effects
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use*
  • Diltiazem / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Conduction System / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Tachycardia, Supraventricular / drug therapy
  • Verapamil / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Verapamil
  • Diltiazem