Effectiveness of heart rate control on hemodynamics in critically ill patients with atrial tachyarrhythmias managed by amiodarone

Pharmacol Res. 2017 Aug;122:118-126. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2017.06.004. Epub 2017 Jun 10.


Atrial tachyarrhythmias (AT) are common in intensive care unit (ICU) patients and might contribute to hemodynamic instability if heart rate (HR) is persistently too rapid. We aimed to assess if HR control below 115 or 130bpm with amiodarone improves hemodynamics in ICU patients with AT. This observational study included 73 ICU patients with disabling AT receiving amiodarone for HR control. A total of 525 changes (mainly within 4-8h) in mean arterial pressure (MAP) and 167 changes in plasma lactate in response to HR variations above 115 or 130bpm were analyzed. Epinephrine, sedative drugs, fluid loading, use of diuretics, continuous renal replacement therapy and amiodarone dosing were among covariables assessed. Univariable analysis showed that HR variations above 115bpm were poorly correlated to change in MAP (r=0.11, p<0.01). Multivariable analysis showed that changes in MAP were still positively associated to HR variation (p<0.05) and to initiation or termination of epinephrine (p<0.05) or sedatives infusions (p<0.05). Changes in plasma lactate did not correlate to HR variations above 115bpm. When considering 130 bpm as a threshold, HR variations were not associated to changes in MAP or to changes in plasma lactate. Amiodarone dose was associated to HR decrease but not to MAP or plasma lactate increase. In ICU patients with AT, strict HR control below 115bpm or 130bpm with amiodarone does not improve hemodynamics. A prospective randomized trial assessing strict versus lenient HR control in this setting is needed.

Keywords: Amiodarone; Atrial tachyarrhythmia; Heart rate; Pharmacology; Shock.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amiodarone / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Critical Illness
  • Female
  • Heart Atria / drug effects*
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tachycardia / drug therapy*
  • Tachycardia / physiopathology


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Amiodarone