Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia, the most common cause of supraventricular tachycardia in the global population and the most common arrhythmia requiring treatment in an emergency department.
To systematically review recent literature and quantify the correlation between the choice of pharmacological cardioversion (PCV) drug and the national or international guidelines.
A systematic review was performed in accordance with the PRISMA statement methodology. The PubMed search engine was used to search for articles regardless of type or language and published in the last 6 years (May 2014-May 2020). In addition, we searched for AF guidelines and recommendations published online by cardiology and emergency medicine societies.
The search strategy returned a total of 2615 abstracts. A total of 2598 full texts were screened; 2540 full texts were excluded with reasons and 58 articles from 32 countries were included in the analysis. In 17 of the 58 articles (29%), we noted discrepancies with the AF guidelines, specifically regarding the PCV drug used, the patients’ comorbidities and the contraindications associated with the PCV drug. The most common clinical situation for the use of a contraindicated drug was when ibutilide was administered to patients with heart failure. The analysis did not reveal any statistically significant correlations, although the correlation between the sample size and guideline adherence was close to statistical significance (p < 0.06).
Our systematic analysis revealed substantial non-adherence to AF treatment guidelines.