The VERDICT (Verapamil Versus Digoxin and Acute Versus Routine Serial Cardioversion Trial) is a prospective, randomized study to investigate whether: 1) acutely repeated serial electrical cardioversions (ECVs) after a relapse of atrial fibrillation (AF); and 2) prevention of intracellular calcium overload by verapamil, decrease intractability of AF.
Rhythm control is desirable in patients suffering from symptomatic AF.
A total of 144 patients with persistent AF were included. Seventy-four (51%) patients were randomized to the acute (within 24 h) and 70 (49%) patients to the routine serial ECVs, and 74 (51%) patients to verapamil and 70 (49%) patients to digoxin for rate control before ECV and continued during follow-up (2 × 2 factorial design). Class III antiarrhythmic drugs were used after a relapse of AF. Follow-up was 18 months.
At baseline, there were no significant differences between the groups, except for beta-blocker use in the verapamil versus digoxin group (38% vs. 60%, respectively, p = 0.01). At follow-up, no difference in the occurrence of permanent AF between the acute and the routine cardioversion groups was observed (32% [95% confidence intervals (CI)] 22 to 44) vs. 31% [95% CI 21 to 44], respectively, p = NS), and also no difference between the verapamil- and the digoxin-randomized patients (28% [95% CI 19 to 40] vs. 36% [95% CI 25 to 48] respectively, p = NS). Multivariate Cox regression analysis revealed that lone digoxin use was the only significant predictor of failure of rhythm control treatment (hazard ratio 2.2 [95% CI 1.1 to 4.4], p = 0.02).
An acute serial cardioversion strategy does not improve long-term rhythm control in comparison with a routine serial cardioversion strategy. Furthermore, verapamil has no beneficial effect in a serial cardioversion strategy.