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Tamargo J, Capucci A, Mabo P

Safety of flecainide.

Drug Saf. 2012 Apr;35(4):273-89, PMID: 22435343

Flecainide is a class Ic antiarrhythmic agent that has an important role as part of rhythm control strategies in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). Early clinical data on the use of flecainide showed an increase in arrhythmias and mortality compared with placebo in patients with a previous myocardial infarction and asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic ventricular arrhythmias. These findings only apply to a specific group of patients with left ventricular dysfunction and ischaemic heart disease, but had a negative impact on the use of class Ic antiarrhythmics across all indications and patient groups. The aim of this review was to evaluate the available safety data for flecainide in the literature and to assess its current use in patients with AF. Current European guidelines now recommend the use of flecainide in carefully selected groups of patients with AF who do not have structural heart disease. This includes for the cardioversion of recent-onset AF, pretreatment prior to direct current cardioversion, out-of-hospital acute oral therapy ('pill-in-the-pocket' approach) and for the ongoing maintenance of sinus rhythm. Potential cardiac adverse effects of flecainide include proarrhythmia, conduction abnormalities and negative inotropic effects. Dizziness is the most frequent non-cardiac side effect, followed by blurred vision and difficulty focusing; these are almost all mild, transient and tolerable. Data from recent clinical trials in patients with supraventricular arrhythmias suggest that flecainide has a good tolerability profile in groups of appropriately selected patients. Caution is required when using flecainide in patients with renal dysfunction, and there are a number of drug interactions, but these are well documented and manageable. Overall, flecainide is a good choice for the pharmacological management of AF. It has a good safety record and low incidence of adverse effects, rare end-organ toxicity and a low risk of ventricular proarrhythmia. To ensure that the benefits of treatment outweigh any potential risks, careful patient selection and monitoring is required.


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