Novel Agents for the Acute Conversion of Atrial Fibrillation: Focus on Vernakalant
Vernakalant is a novel anti-arrhythmic drug, recently approved for the cardioversion of recent-onset atrial fibrillation. Its action is mainly due to the blockade of atrial-selective channels responsible of the ultra-rapid delayed rectifier current IKur, but has also important interactions with other channels and currents, such as INa (inward sodium current), and IKACh (acetylcholine-regulated potassium current). Due to the relatively selective blockade of the IKur, vernakalant prolongs the effective refractory period of the atria with minimal effects on the ventricles, thus minimizing the risk of proarrhythmia. Thus far vernakalant has been tested in three placebo-controlled trials (ACT I, ACT II and ACT III) and in one amiodarone-controlled study (AVRO). Vernakalant has been demonstrated more effective than both placebo and amiodarone for the rapid conversion of atrial fibrillation, without significant adverse events. This article will review the recent patents on this novel atrial-selective agent, discussing its mechanisms of action and possible clinical applications in the real-world practice.
Keywords: Vernakalant, atrial fibrillation, pharmacologic cardioversion, AVRO, multiple wavelet model, effective refractory period, ventricular arrhythmias, Flecainide, Propafenone, CYP2D6, warfarin, furosemide, digoxin, action potential duration, RSD1235, CRAFT, AZD7009, dysgeusia, proarrhythmia
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