Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines

Atrial fibrillation or arrhythmia refers to a heart condition characterized by irregular and often rapid beating. This problem may increase your risk of heart failure, stroke or any other heart-related complications. During arrhythmia, the two lower chambers of the heart, the atria, beat chaotically, irregularly and out of coordination with the ventricles, the two lower chambers. Common symptoms associated with this condition include general weakness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

Atrial Fibrillation

Even though atrial fibrillation is not life threatening, it may trigger episodes that require emergency treatment. As with many medical conditions, experts do document the science required to guide caregivers into picking the right treatment regimen, which the medical profession refer to as medical guidelines. While atrial fibrillation guidelines are rather long, they outline some basic decisions that all arrhythmia patients should understand. The guideline frames these in form of questions.

These three questions cover the essence of the mentioned basic conditions. Firstly, how can anyone prevent stroke? This question evokes the need to scrutinize personal risks, as these will determine the necessary or appropriate treatment regimen. Depending on patient’s unique risk factors, he or she may require some kind of antithrombotic medication, oral anticoagulants or maybe just aspirin. Warfarin is the preferred antithrombotic medication while apixaban, rivoraxaban or dabigitran make up the list of commonly used oral anticoagulants.

Secondly, every patient needs to know if there is need for warfarin therapy or aspirin or if stroke prevention therapy is essential. This is especially important because there are additional lifestyle modifications necessary and important where stroke prevention is a factor. Every patient should analyze his or her CHA2DS2-VASc score to help identify additional stroke risk factors.

This score looks at factors such as previous cases of cognitive heart failure, hypertension history, age, presence of diabetes as well as prior stroke episodes. It also captures vascular disease history, which includes prior episodes of heart attack, incidences of aortic plaque as well as peripheral artery disease. Preventing stroke based on the indicators given by the CHA2DS2-VASc score for instance, will inform the healthcare provider’s decision. Based on these, the available options are healthy lifestyle, aspirin or FDA approved anti-coagulants. There are situations where healthy lifestyle alone may be adequate while in certain instances, a combination of enhanced lifestyle as well as a choice of either of the medicinal therapies may be necessary.

The third important question every arrhythmia patient needs to have answers to, centers on the controls available for irregular heartbeat. A patient should thus find out if there options available that can control the heart rate as well as irregular heartbeat. Based on a patient’s medical history as well as the risks of a repeat episode of stroke in future, There are available options that a caregiver or healthcare provider can discuss with and recommend to the patient.

Atrial fibrillation guidelines are just recommendations for treating people with arrhythmia. However, since atrial fibrillation remains the most sustained cardiac arrhythmia, the guidelines could not be more relevant. With increasing prevalence and most untreated cases degenerating into significant risk factors for heart-related morbidities including stroke, these guidelines are timely in helping prevent complications, treating stroke and alleviating symptoms of arrhythmia.