Verapamil is a novel antiarrhythmic agent which appears to act as a calcium-ion antagonist, blocking calcium transport across the myocardial cell membrane. It was given intravenously, in a dose of 10 mg, to thirty-two patients suffering from paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, and sinus rhythm was achieved promptly in all. Identical results were obtained in a further ten patients with supraventricular tachycardias associated with the Wolff-Parkinson-White or other pre-excitation syndromes. In a separate group of eighteen patients in whom A-V junctional tachycardias were induced during intracardiac electrography, conversion to sinus rhythm was achieved in fifteen patients, with prolongation of the cycle length in the others. Circus-movement tachycardias were induced in eight patients with the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, and conversion to sinus rhythm was achieved in seven. The results were less consistent in patients with other supraventricular arrhythmias including ectopic atrial tachycardia and atrial flutter, and, in the single patient with supraventricular and ventricular tachycardia, only the former was controlled. In the single patient with atrial fibrillation complicating the Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome who received verapamil, sinus rhythm was restored. Side effects were few and mild, with rare exceptions of profound hypotension, bradycardia and asystole; their management is discussed, and reasons are advanced why their occurrence is likely to be related either to the concomitant administration of beta-adrenergic blockers or to the presence of sinoatrial disease. It appears that verapamil is particularly suitable for the treatment of supraventricular tachycardias due to a circus movement as calcium antagonism is likely to be most effective in the N region of the atrioventricular node.
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