This study investigated the efficacy of oral administration of verapamil, started 24 hours after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), in reducing the incidence of postoperative supraventricular tachyarrhythmia (SVT). Two hundred patients were randomly assigned in a double-blind fashion to receive a one-week course of either a placebo or 80 mg of verapamil every 6 hours. Overall, SVT developed in 23 control and 14 verapamil-treated patients, a 39% reduction in incidence (p < 0.10). Of the patients who received at least four doses and continued to receive the study drug, 17 in the control and 7 in the verapamil group experienced SVT, a 53% decrease in incidence (p < 0.06). Atrial fibrillation constituted 34 of the 37 SVT episodes and was associated with a slower ventricular response in the group given verapamil (115 ± 8 versus 156 ± 4 beats per minute; p < 0.001). No evidence was found linking postoperative SVT with the withdrawal of beta-blocking drugs. Adverse effects required that 20 patients in the verapamil and 6 in the placebo group be removed from the study. Hypotension or pulmonary edema or both developed in 13 of the patients receiving verapamil, but in only 1 of the control patients (p < 0.001). We conclude that although verapamil has potential merit for the prophylaxis of SVT after CABG, its use in this setting is associated with a high incidence of unacceptable hemodynamic side effects.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine