Primary indications for the use of quinidine include (1) abolition of premature complexes that have an atrial, A-V junctional, or ventricular origin; (2) restoration of normal sinus rhythm in atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation after controlling the ventricular rate with digitalis; (3) maintenance of normal sinus rhythm after electrical conversion of atrial arrhythmias; (4) prophylaxis against arrhythmias associated with electrical countershock; (5) termination of ventricular tachycardia; and (6) suppression of repetitive tachycardia associated with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome.
Although quinidine often is successful in producing normal sinus rhythm, its administration in the presence of a rapid atrial rate (flutter and possibly atrial fibrillation) can lead to a further and dangerous increase in the ventricular rate secondary to inhibition of basal vagal tone upon the A-V node. For this reason, digitalis should be used before quinidine when one is attempting to convert atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation to normal sinus rhythm.
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