27 Aug 12

Management of atrial fibrillation in the acute setting

Posted in Arrhythmia, Critical Care at 1:04 by Laci

By J Chenoweth, D Diercks
Curr Op Crit Care 2012;18: 333–340

The review aims to describe the scope of the problem and potential therapeutic intervention for the management and risk stratification of patients with atrial fibrillation in the emergency department and acute care setting.

Recent findings
Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia prompting admission to the hospital. Management strategies include determining the trigger of the arrhythmia, rate control, and potential cardioversion. In the acute care setting the treatment is often dependent on the timing of the onset of arrhythmia. In those patients presenting with symptoms of less than 48 h of duration management may consist of rate control, pharmacologic, or electrical cardioversion. Recent studies suggest no difference in long-term outcomes with rate and rhythm control. In patients with symptoms greater that 48 h rate control is the initial option with potential for cardioversion as an outpatient. There are recent advances in ablation that provide additional options to patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. An essential component of the treatment strategy for these patients is risk stratification for stroke and the initiation of long-term anticoagulation in appropriate patients.

Summary
Management of atrial fibrillation is guided by underlying causes of the atrial fibrillation and duration of symptoms.

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