Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in the US population
(Fuster, 2006). AF can be asymptomatic but it may also be associated with shortness of
breath, difficulty with exercise, palpitations, general fatigue, dizziness, and confusion.
Importantly, AF is the second-leading cause of stroke, after atherosclerosis (Heron, 2009);
the risk of stroke among those with AF is estimated to be fivefold higher than in patients
without this disorder (National Stroke Association, 2010).
Interventions of interest:
- Antiarrhythmic drug therapy to return the heart to sinus rhythm
- Radiofrequency catheter ablation to terminate AF and prevent further episodes
- Minimally-invasive surgical techniques to terminate AF and prevent further episodes
- Aspirin, warfarin, and dabigatran for anticoagulation to prevent strokes
- The WATCHMAN left atrial appendage occlusive device to prevent strokes
Date of review: September 2010
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