JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL RESEARCH, vol.37, no.2, pp.464-471, 2009 (SCI-Expanded)
Recent trials have favoured ventricular rate control in atrial fibrillation (AF) management, however the present study investigated whether the restoration and maintenance of sinus rhythm with long-term anticoagulation therapy was superior in terms of embolic events and death in 534 patients with an AF duration > 48 h. Patients were randomized and received sinus rhythm control with either aspirin (group 1) or warfarin (group 2), or they were given ventricular rate control (group 3). Cardioversion to sinus rhythm was attempted in 42S patients and was successful in 387 (91.1%) of them. After 3 years' follow-up there were 12, two and 15 embolic events in groups 1, 2 and 3 respectively (significant difference between groups 1 and 2, and 2 and 3) and overall mortalities were four, two and 12, respectively (significant difference between groups 2 and 3). It is concluded that patients with an AF duration > 48 h might benefit considerably from sinus rhythm restoration and long-term warfarin therapy in terms of embolic events and mortality.