Supraventricular ectopy and recurrence of atrial fibrillation after electrical cardioversion

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Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) is usually preceded by a premature atrial complex (PAC). We hypothesized that patients with a high frequency of atrial ectopic activity after restoration of sinus rhythm following direct current cardioversion would be more likely to experience recurrence of AF.

Methods and results

Forty-four patients with documented persistent AF were studied. A 24 h Holter recording was performed from the day of external direct current cardioversion. Patients were reviewed at 1 week, 1 month, and 6 months. After 6 months, 59% of patients had experienced a recurrence of AF. Neither the frequency of PACs nor the frequency or duration of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) episodes predicted AF recurrence (P=0.60, 0.30, and 0.42, respectively). There was a trend towards maximum rate of SVT predicting recurrence of AF (P=0.08).


Frequency of supraventricular ectopy or the number and length of SVT runs in the 24 h after restoration of sinus rhythm are not strong predictors of recurrence of AF after electrical cardioversion. A larger study would be required to detect a small predictive effect.

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