Background Inflammation and oxidative stress have been recently implicated in the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation (AF). The aim of this study was to examine the potential benefit of vitamin C on the early recurrence rates and on inflammatory indices after successful cardioversion of persistent AF, as well as to investigate the time course of changes in these indices post-cardioversion.
Methods We prospectively studied 44 consecutive patients after successful electrical cardioversion of persistent AF. All patients received standard treatment and were randomised in one to one fashion to either oral vitamin C administration or no additional therapy. We followed-up the patients for 7 days performing successive measurements of white blood cell (WBC) count, C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, and ferritin levels.
Results One week after successful cardioversion, AF recurred in 4.5% of patients in the vitamin C group and in 36.3% of patients in the control group (p = 0.024). Compared to baseline values, inflammatory indices decreased after cardioversion in patients receiving vitamin C but did not change significantly in the control group. A significant variance was found in the serial measurements of WBC counts (F = 5.86, p = 0.001) and of fibrinogen levels (F = 4.10, p = 0.0084) in the two groups. In the vitamin C group CRP levels were lower on the seventh day (p < 0.05). CRP and fibrinogen levels were higher in patients who relapsed into AF compared to patients who maintained sinus rhythm (F = 2.77, p = 0.044 and F = 3.51, p = 0.017, respectively).
Conclusions These findings suggest that vitamin C reduces the early recurrence rates after cardioversion of persistent AF and attenuates the associated low-level inflammation. These effects indicate that therapeutic approaches targeting at inflammation and oxidative stress may exert favourable effects on atrial electrical remodeling.