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- Age: 55 or older
- Sex: male
- Family history of atrial fibrillation
- Cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack, heart valve disease, endocarditis, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, prior episode of atrial fibrillation
- Lung diseases, such as emphysema, asthma, blood clots in the lungs
- Chronic conditions, such as overactive thyroid, diabetes
- Receiving general anesthesia
- Lifestyle factors, such as use of stimulant drugs (including caffeine), smoking, alcohol abuse, stress (either physical or emotional)
- Irregular or rapid pulse or heart beat
- Racing feeling in the chest
- A pounding feeling in the chest
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue or weakness
- Unable to exercise
- Ask about your symptoms and medical history
- Perform a physical exam
- Listen to your heart with a stethoscope
- Return your heart to a regular rhythm, if possible.
- Keep your heart rate close to normal.—Your doctor will tell you your target heart rate. In general, your resting rate should be between 60-80 beats per minute. It should be 90-115 beats per minute during moderate exercise.
- Prevent blood clots from forming.
- Drugs to slow the heart rate, such as digitalis, verapamil, diltiazem, metoprolol, atenolol
- Drugs to keep the heart in a regular rhythm, such as sotalol, propafenone, amiodarone
- Drugs to prevent clot formation, such as warfarin, dabigatran, rivaroxaban
- Cardioversion—This procedure uses an electrical current or drugs to help normalize the heart rhythm.
- Ablation—An area of the heart that is responsible for atrial fibrillation may be surgically removed or altered (ablated) with various techniques.
- Maze procedure and mini-maze procedure—The Maze procedure creates a pattern of scar tissue in the upper chambers of the heart. This makes a pathway for electrical impulses to travel through the heart. It also blocks the pathway for fast or irregular impulses. The Maze procedure may also be performed as minimally invasive surgery (called mini-Maze ).
- Avoiding certain substances (e.g., caffeine and other stimulants, alcohol) that may trigger another episode
- Having a regular exercise routine
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/
Heart Rhythm Society http://www.hrsonline.org/
Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca/
Canadian Family Physician http://www.cfp.ca/
Atrial fibrillation. CardioSmart website. Available at: http://cardiosmart.org/HeartDisease/CTT.aspx?id=222. Accessed November 9, 2012.
Cardioversion. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Accessed January 30, 2008.
Cardioversion procedure. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/services/tests/procedures/cversion.aspx. Updated December 28, 2011. Accessed November 9, 2012.
What is atrial fibrillation? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/af/. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed November 9, 2012.
12/13/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Lubitz SA, Yin X, Fontes JD, et al. Association between familial atrial fibrillation and risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation. JAMA. 2010;304(20):2263-2269.
5/11/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Osbak PS, Mourier M, Kjaer A, Henriksen JH, Kofoed KF, Jensen GB. A randomized study of the effects of exercise training on patients with atrial fibrillation. Am Heart J. 2011;162(6):1080-1087.
- Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
- Review Date: 11/2012 -
- Update Date: 11/09/2012 -