Randomized Trial of Carnitine for the Prevention of Perioperative Atrial Fibrillation

Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2018 Spring;30(1):7-13. doi: 10.1053/j.semtcvs.2017.08.006. Epub 2017 Aug 24.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is one of the most common complications in patients who undergo coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of L-carnitine administration on postoperative AF and the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) following CABG. The effects of L-carnitine on the incidence of acute kidney injury after CABG were also assessed. One hundred thirty-four patients undergoing elective CABG, without a history of AF or previous L-carnitine treatment, were randomly assigned to an L-carnitine group (3000 mg/d L-carnitine) or a control group. CRP levels, as a biomarker of inflammation, were assessed in all the patients before surgery as baseline levels and 48 hours postoperatively. Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, as a kidney biomarker, was also measured in the patients before surgery and 2 hours thereafter. The incidence of AF was 13.4% in our population. The incidence of AF was decreased in the L-carnitine group (7.5% in the L-carnitine group vs 19.4% in the control group; P = 0.043) and the postoperative CRP level (8.79 ± 6.9 in the L-carnitine group, and 10.83 ± 5.7 in the control group; P = 0.021). The postoperative neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin concentration demonstrated no significant rise after surgery compared with the preoperative concentration (72.54 ± 20.30 in the L-carnitine group vs 67.68 ± 22.71 in the placebo group; P = 0.19). Our study showed that L-carnitine administration before CABG might inhibit and reduce the incidence of AF after CABG. It seems that a rise in the CRP level, as an inflammation marker, may be associated with the incidence of AF. Inflammation as measured by CRP was also reduced in the carnitine group, compared with the control group.

Keywords: L-carnitine; atrial fibrillation; coronary artery bypass grafting.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology
  • Aged
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / adverse effects
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / prevention & control*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Carnitine / administration & dosage*
  • Carnitine / adverse effects
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / adverse effects*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Lipocalin-2 / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perioperative Period
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • LCN2 protein, human
  • Lipocalin-2
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Carnitine