What is the Best Agent for Rate Control of Atrial Fibrillation With Rapid Ventricular Response?



      Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common dysrhythmia associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Although many patients have stable AF, some patients can present with a rapid ventricular response (RVR). In these patients, it is important to lower their heart rate. However, there are several options available for rate control in the emergency department setting.

      Clinical Question

      What is the most effective agent for rate control for the patient with AF in RVR?

      Evidence Review

      Studies retrieved included two prospective, randomized, double-blind studies and six retrospective cohort studies. These studies provide estimates of the efficacy and safety of calcium channel blockers and β-blockers for rate control in those with AF with RVR.


      Based upon the available literature, diltiazem likely achieves rate control faster than metoprolol, though both agents seem safe and effective. Clinicians must consider the individual patient, clinical situation, and comorbidities when selecting a medication for rate control.


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