Background: Electrical cardioversion (ECV) is the recommended treatment for atrial fibrillation (AFib) in critically ill patients, despite lacking data showing hemodynamic benefits of restoring sinus rhythm in this setting. The aim of this study was to assess the hemodynamic effect of successful ECV in a cohort of hemodynamically unstable critically ill patients.
Methods and results: This study included 66 successful ECV performed in hemodynamically unstable critically ill patients with new-onset AFib. The primary outcome was the requirement of norepinephrine and inotropes 6 h after successful ECV in relation to baseline. Baseline norepinephrine dose was 0.19 ± 0.02 μg/kg/min, and 67% of patients were treated with positive inotropic drugs. Six hours after ECV, 33 patients (50%) were considered hemodynamic non-responders. Overall, the mean norepinephrine dose at 6 h was 0.17 ± 0.02 μg/kg/min (P = 0.051 compared to baseline) and 61% of patients were on inotropes (P = 0.13 compared to baseline). During the 6-hour period after ECV the mean norepinephrine dose temporary increased to 0.20 ± 0.02 μg/kg/min (P = 0.033 compared to baseline).
Conclusions: ECV is associated with a large proportion of hemodynamic non-responders and a numerically modest, non-significant hemodynamic improvement in critically ill patients with new-onset AFib.