Author + information
- Received August 13, 1990
- Revision received January 28, 1991
- Accepted February 15, 1991
- Published online August 1, 1991.
- Frank A Fish, MDb,∗,
- Paul C Gillette, MD, FACC∗,
- D.Woodrow Benson Jr., MD, PhD, FACCb,
- The Pediatric Electrophysiology Group†
- ↵∗Address for reprints: Frank A. Fish, MD, Division of Pediatric Cardiology. MCN D-2217, Vanderbilt University. Nashville, Tennessee 37232-2572.
The potential for proarrhythmic responses to the class IC sodium channel-blocking drugs encainide and flecainide has not been well described in young patients. Therefore, data were retrospectively collected from 36 institutions regarding 579 young patients who were administered encainide or flecainide for treatment of supraventricular tachycardias (encainide 86 patients, flecainide 369 patients) or ventricular arrhythmias (encainide 21 patients, flecainide 103 patients) to assess the frequency of proarrhythmia, cardiac arrest and death during therapy (adverse events). The two drugs were similar in regard to efficacy (flecainide 71.4%, encainide 59.8%) and rate of proarrhythmic responses (flecainide 7.4%; encainide 7.5%). However, patients receiving encainide more frequently experienced cardiac arrest (encainide 7.5% vs. flecainide 2.3%, p < 0.05) or died during treatment (encainide 7.5% vs. flecainide 2.1%, p < 0.05).
Detailed data were provided for 44 patients experiencing one or more adverse events. Patient age, previous drug trials, concomitant therapy and days of inpatient monitoring were similar for patients receiving encainide or flecainide. However, echocardiographic left ventricular shortening before treatment was lower among pationts receiving encainide (0.23 ± 0.09) than among those receiving flecainide (0.34 ± 0.06, p < 0.05). Plasma drug concentrations were rarely elevated. Cardiac arrest (12 patients) and deaths (13 patients) occurred predominantly among patients with underlying heart disease, particularly among patients receiving flecainide for supraventricular tachycardia (8.3% vs. 0.3%, p < 0.001).
Fifteen patients with an ostensibly normal heart and normal ventricular function experienced proarrhythmia during treatment for supraventricular tachycardia, but only 3 of the 15 had a cardiac arrest or died. The relatively high incidence of adverse events should be considered when contemplating treatment with encainide or flecainide, particularly among patients with underlying heart disease.
- Received August 13, 1990.
- Revision received January 28, 1991.
- Accepted February 15, 1991.