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Laboratory and Animal Investigations |

Effects of Cardiac Glycosides on Atrial Contractile Dysfunction After Short-term Atrial Fibrillation*

Howard S. Friedman, MD, FCCP; Moethu Win, MD; Akhtar Hussain, MD; Anjan Sinha, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Department of Medicine, Long Island College Hospital and SUNY Health Science Center, Brooklyn, NY.

Correspondence to: Howard S. Friedman, MD, FCCP, 650 First Ave, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10016;



Chest. 2000;118(4):1116-1126. doi:10.1378/chest.118.4.1116
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Background: Despite a long history of use in the treatment of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF), the efficacy of cardiac glycosides has not been established. If such drugs are beneficial in this condition, the general view is that the benefit must be related to their inotropic actions.

Methods and results: To assess the effects of the rapid-acting cardiac glycoside, acetylstrophanthidin (AS), on AF and AF-induced right atrial (RA) “stunning,” RA wall motion (with ultrasonic crystals), RA pressure, and peak first derivative of pressure (dp/dt) (with microtip transducers) were measured before and after 5 min of high-intensity rapid atrial stimulation (10 Hz; 10 mA; 1 ms) and after the cessation of poststimulation AF. Measurements were made in neurally intact and autonomically blockaded dogs both before and after the administration of AS (0.01 mg/kg IV bolus and 0.015 mg/kg/h IV infusion). AS prevented the post-AF reduction in RA peak dp/dt under neurally intact and autonomically blockaded conditions, and it prevented the post-AF increase in the RA end-systolic dimension and the decrease in the percentage of RA systolic shortening with autonomic blockade. AS was beneficial whether or not baseline inotropy was enhanced by AS. The duration of AF following atrial stimulation was the same before and after AS, but when compared to controls, AS treatment appeared to prolong AF.

Conclusions: Cardiac glycosides exert a favorable effect on AF-induced RA stunning, but this action is unrelated to its effects on the duration of AF.

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