Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common supraventricular tachyarrhythmia with substantial morbidity and mortality. This review briefly describes the mechanisms of AF development and progression, including electrical, structural, and contractile remodeling. In addition, the potential benefits of achieving and maintaining sinus rhythm are discussed. For example, rhythm control has been associated with improvements in left ventricular function, AF symptoms, exercise tolerance, the ability to perform activities of daily living, and quality of life. More recently, dronedarone, a noniodinated benzofuran derivative approved for use in the treatment of AF, was shown to significantly improve clinical outcomes including cardiovascular hospitalizations and death from any cause in A Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Parallel Arm Trial to Assess the Efficacy of Dronedarone 400 mg bid for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Hospitalization or Death From Any Cause in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation/Atrial Flutter (ATHENA). The review concludes with an examination of AF treatment options and expectations. Evidence suggests that the complete absence of AF recurrence is not always achievable; however, complete restoration of sinus rhythm may not be necessary for patients to achieve clinically meaningful benefits. Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
The editorial assistance provided for this manuscript was funded by Sanofi-Aventis. The authors were fully responsible for all content and editorial decision, and received no financial support or other form of compensation related to the development of the paper. The authors have no other funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.