Items in AFP with MESH term: Atrial Fibrillation
ABSTRACT: Family physicians frequently encounter patients with symptoms that could be related to cardiac arrhythmias, most commonly atrial fibrillation or supraventricular tachycardias. The initial management of atrial fibrillation includes ventricular rate control to provide adequate cardiac output. In patients with severely depressed cardiac output and recent-onset atrial fibrillation, immediate electrical cardioversion is the treatment of choice. Hemodynamically stable patients with atrial fibrillation for more than two days or for an unknown period should be assessed for the presence of atrial thrombi. If thrombi are detected on transesophageal echocardiography, anticoagulation with warfarin for a minimum of 21 days is recommended before electrical cardioversion is attempted. Patients with other supraventricular arrhythmias may be treated with adenosine, a calcium channel blocker, or a short-acting beta blocker to disrupt reentrant pathways. When initial medications are ineffective, radiofrequency ablation of ectopic sites is an increasingly popular treatment option.
ABSTRACT: Atrial fibrillation is the arrhythmia most commonly encountered in family practice. Serious complications can include congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, and thromboembolism. Initial treatment is directed at controlling the ventricular rate, most often with a calcium channel blocker, a beta blocker, or digoxin. Medical or electrical cardioversion to restore sinus rhythm is the next step in patients who remain in atrial fibrillation. Heparin should be administered to hospitalized patients undergoing medical or electrical cardioversion. Anticoagulation with warfarin should be used for three weeks before elective cardioversion and continued for four weeks after cardioversion. The recommendations provided in this two-part article are consistent with guidelines published by the American Heart Association and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
ABSTRACT: Family physicians should be familiar with the acute management of atrial fibrillation and the initiation of chronic therapy for this common arrhythmia. Initial management should include hemodynamic stabilization, rate control, restoration of sinus rhythm, and initiation of antithrombotic therapy. Part II of this two-part article focuses on the prevention of thromboembolic complications using anticoagulation. Heparin is routinely administered before medical or electrical cardioversion. Warfarin is used in patients with persistent atrial fibrillation who are at higher risk for thromboembolic complications because of advanced age, history of coronary artery disease or stroke, or presence of left-sided heart failure. Aspirin is preferred in patients at low risk for thromboembolic complications and patients with a high risk for falls, a history of noncompliance, active bleeding, or poorly controlled hypertension. The recommendations provided in this article are consistent with guidelines published by the American Heart Association and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
ABSTRACT: Digoxin therapy has long been used to treat heart failure; however, its effectiveness was not completely known until recently. Results of the Digitalis Investigation Group trial showed that adding digoxin to standard heart failure therapy had no effect on mortality. However, adding digoxin decreased hospitalizations related to heart failure and improved symptoms in patients treated for heart failure. Reanalyses of the trial's findings have raised new questions about the role of digoxin in heart failure treatment. These new analyses showed that low serum digoxin concentrations used in patients with more severe disease offered the most benefit. Digoxin use in women was associated with increased mortality risk. This finding should be interpreted with caution, however, because it was based on retrospective data, and the cause of this phenomenon has not been fully elucidated. Prospective clinical trials are needed to determine the serum digoxin concentration that is associated with the most clinical benefit and to determine the role of digoxin therapy for women. Digoxin generally does not have a role in the treatment of diastolic heart failure and is not a first-line therapy for managing atrial fibrillation in patients with heart failure.
ABSTRACT: Factors associated with an increased risk of thromboembolic events in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) include increasing age, rheumatic heart disease, poor left ventricular function, previous myocardial infarction, hypertension and a past history of a thromboembolic event. Patients with AF should be considered for anticoagulation or antiplatelet therapy based on the patient's age, the presence of other risk factors for stroke and the risk of complications from anticoagulation. In general, patients with risk factors for stroke should receive warfarin anticoagulation, regardless of their age. In patients who are under age 65 and have no other risk factors for stroke, either aspirin therapy or no therapy at all is recommended. Aspirin or warfarin is recommended for use in patients between 65 and 75 years of age with no other risk factors, and warfarin is recommended for use in patients without risk factors who are older than 75 years of age.
ABSTRACT: Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia in patients visiting a primary care practice. Although many patients with atrial fibrillation experience relief of symptoms with control of the heart rate, some patients require restoration of sinus rhythm. External direct current (DC) cardioversion is the most effective means of converting atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm. Pharmacologic cardioversion, although less effective, offers an alternative to DC cardioversion. Several advances have been made in antiarrhythmic medications, including the development of ibutilide, a class III antiarrhythmic drug indicated for acute cardioversion of atrial fibrillation. Other methods of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic cardioversion remain under development. Until the results of several large-scale randomized clinical trials are available, the decision to choose cardioversion or maintenance of sinus rhythm must be individualized, based on relief of symptoms and reduction of the morbidity and mortality associated with atrial fibrillation.
ABSTRACT: Clinical trials conducted during the past five years have yielded important results that have allowed us to refine our approach to stroke prevention. Treatment of isolated systolic hypertension prevents stroke and is generally well tolerated. New antiplatelet agents (clopidogrel and the combination of aspirin plus high-dose dipyridamole) have been shown to be effective in reducing vascular events in survivors of ischemic stroke, although aspirin remains the mainstay of antiplatelet therapy for stroke prevention. Several clinical trials support the benefit of lipid-lowering agents ("statins") in reducing stroke. Warfarin reduces stroke for high-risk patients with atrial fibrillation. Carotid endarterectomy is highly beneficial in reducing stroke for symptomatic patients with severe carotid stenosis (greater than 70 percent), but the benefit is less for symptomatic patients with a moderate degree of stenosis (50 to 69 percent) and for patients with asymptomatic carotid disease of any severity.
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ABSTRACT: Supraventricular arrhythmias are relatively common, often persistent, and rarely life-threatening cardiac rhythm disturbances that arise from the sinus node, atrial tissue, or junctional sites between the atria and ventricles. The term "supraventricular arrhythmia" most often is used to refer to supraventricular tachycardias and atrial flutter. The term "supraventricular tachycardia" commonly refers to atrial tachycardia, atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia, and atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia, an entity that includes Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Atrial fibrillation is a distinct entity classified separately. Depending on the arrhythmia, catheter ablation is a treatment option at initial diagnosis, when symptoms develop, or if medical therapy fails. Catheter ablation of supraventricular tachycardias, atrial flutter, and atrial fibrillation offers patients high effectiveness rates, durable (and often permanent) therapeutic end points, and low complication rates. Catheter ablation effectiveness rates exceed 88 percent for atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia, atrioventricular reciprocating tachycardia, and atrial flutter; are greater than 86 percent for atrial tachycardia; and range from 60 to 80 percent for atrial fibrillation. Complication rates for supraventricular tachycardias and atrial flutter ablation are 0 to 8 percent. The complication rates for atrial fibrillation ablation range from 6 to 10 percent. Complications associated with catheter ablation result from radiation exposure, vascular access (e.g., hematomas, cardiac perforation with tamponade), catheter manipulation (e.g., cardiac perforation with tamponade, thromboembolic events), or ablation energy delivery (e.g., atrioventricular nodal block).