Scientific Sessions 2015 - heart rate graphThe multi-channel blocker vernakalant restored sinus rhythm more often and much faster than the widely used class III drug ibutilide in patients presenting to the emergency room with recent-onset atrial fibrillation (quivering or irregular heartbeat), according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015.

Vernakalant, like ibutilide, is a rapid-acting antiarrhythmic drug. Researchers compared the drugs’ effects by studying 100 patients with recent onset atrial fibrillation in a hospital emergency room.

Forty-nine patients received up to two infusions of vernakalant; 51 received intravenous ibutilide.

Researchers found:

  • It took an average of 10 minutes to normalize heart rhythms with vernakalant, compared to 26 minutes with ibutilide.
  • Conversion success within 90 minutes was notably higher in the vernakalant group (69 percent) compared to those who received ibutilide (43 percent).

No serious treatment-related complications occurred in either group.