NICE Guidance on Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia, and estimates suggest its prevalence is increasing. If left untreated atrial fibrillation is a significant risk factor for stroke and other morbidities. Men are more commonly affected than women and the prevalence increases with age.
The aim of treatment is to prevent complications, particularly stroke, and alleviate symptoms. Drug treatments include anticoagulants to reduce the risk of stroke and antiarrhythmics to restore or maintain the normal heart rhythm or to slow the heart rate in people who remain in atrial fibrillation. Non-pharmacological management includes electrical cardioversion, which may be used to ‘shock’ the heart back to its normal rhythm, and catheter or surgical ablation to create lesions to stop the abnormal electrical impulses that cause atrial fibrillation.