Heart rate is a marker of amiodarone mortality reduction in severe heart failure

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Objectives. The impact of amiodarone on mortality in patients with severe congestive heart failure (CHF) (New York Heart Association functional classes II [advanced], III and IV; left ventricular ejection fraction <35%) in the Grupo de Estudio de la Sobrevida en la Insuficiencia Cardiaca en Argentina (GESICA) trial was analyzed in relation to initial mean baseline heart rate (BHR) and its change after 6 months of follow-up. Background. Trials of amiodarone therapy in CHF have produced discordant results, suggesting that the effect is not uniform in all patient subgroups with regard to survival. Methods. The present analysis was carried out in 516 patients randomized to receive amiodarone, 300 mg/day (n = 260), or nonantiarrhythmic therapy (n = 256, control group) and followed up for 2 years. Survival was evaluated for patients with a BHR ≤90 beats/min (control: n = 132; amiodarone: n = 122) and <90 beats/min (control: n = 124; amiodarone: n = 138). Survival was also analyzed according to heart rate reduction at 6 months for 367 patients. Results. For patients with a BHR ≤90 beats/min, amiodarone therapy reduced mortality to 38.4% compared with 62.4% in control patients (relative risk [RR] 0.55, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.35 to 0.95, p < 0.002). Both sudden death (RR 0.46, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.90, p < 0.02) and progressive heart failure death (RR 0.60, 95% CI 0.30 to 1.03, p < 0.06) were reduced, and functional capacity was improved. In patients with a BHR <90 beats/min, amiodarone did not alter survival. Among 367 patients who completed 6 months of follow-up, amiodarone reduced 2-year mortality only in those with a BHR ≤90 beats/min, which was reduced at 6 months. Conclusions. Elevated rest heart rates in severe CHF identify a subgroup of patients who benefit from treatment with amiodarone. Amiodarone-induced heart rate slowing may be an important benefit for patients.




Nul, D. R., Doval, H. C., Grancelli, H. O., Varini, S. D., Soifer, S., Perrone, S. V., … Scapin, O. (1997). Heart rate is a marker of amiodarone mortality reduction in severe heart failure. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 29(6), 1199–1205. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0735-1097(97)00066-1

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