Use of intravenous flecainide in horses with naturally-occurring atrial fibrillation

G van Loon, Karen Blissitt, John Keen, L E Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Reasons for performing study: It has been reported that i.v. flecainide has a high efficacy for the treatment of experimentally-induced acute atrial fibrillation (AF) in horses and that its use is associated with minimal toxic side effects.

Objectives: The objectives were to study the efficacy of i.v. flecainide as a treatment for atriall fibrillation in horses with naturally-occurring AF.

Methods: Ten horses with naturally-occurring AF were treated with 2 mg/kg bwt flecainide i.v. at a rate of 0.2 mg/kg bwt/min. In 3 horses, the infusion was continued at 0.05-0.10 mg/kg bwt/min until a total dose of 3.0 mg/kg bwt had been administered. Heart rate, QRS duration and average interval between fibrillation waves were measured before, during and following flecainide infusion. If conversion to normal sinus rhythm was not achieved, horses were treated with quinidine sulphate per os at a dose of 22 mg/kg bwt given every 2 h.

Results: None of the horses with chronic AF (n = 9) converted to sinus rhythm with flecainide i.v. The only horse treated successfully had acute AF of 12 days' duration. The QRS duration and fibrillation cycle length increased significantly (P = 0.006 and 0.002, respectively) during and following flecainide infusion. Heart rate did not increase significantly over time however, 3 horses developed heart rates in excess of 100 beats/min. Two horses developed a potentially dangerous ventricular dysrhythmia during the first 15 mins of treatment. Quinidine sulphate given per os restored sinus rhythm in 8 out of 9 horses, with minimal adverse effects.

Conclusions: Although flecainide might be efficacious in cases of acute AF, it was not possible to restore sinus rhythm in horses with naturally-occurring chronic AF at the dosages used in this study. In 2 horses, 2.0 mg/kg bwt flecainide was associated with potentially dangerous dysrhythmias.

Potential clinical relevance: Intravenous administration of 2 mg/kg bwt flecainide is unlikely to convert chronic AF in horses and could induce dangerous dysrhythmias.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-614
Number of pages6
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • horse
  • flecainide
  • atrial fibrillation
  • intravenous
  • quinidine sulphate


Dive into the research topics of 'Use of intravenous flecainide in horses with naturally-occurring atrial fibrillation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this