- Chaotic and irregular atrial arrhythmia, the prevalence of which increases progressively with age and affects almost 5% of the population older than 69 years of age.
- Causes significant morbidity and mortality including palpitations, dyspnoea, angina, dizziness or syncope, and features of congestive heart failure (CHF), tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy, stroke, and death.
- ECG shows absent P waves, presence of fibrillatory waves, and irregularly irregular QRS complexes.
- Most patients presenting with acute atrial fibrillation (AF) do not require immediate intervention. Most patients will require medical therapy to control ventricular rate.
- Patients who develop haemodynamic compromise should have immediate direct current cardioversion.
- If the precise timing of the onset of AF is unclear, a transoesophageal echocardiogram must be performed to exclude left atrial clots before cardioversion.
Last updated: Jan 28, 2013