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arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, care coordination, older adults, patient education, stroke prevention, treatment guidelines



  1. Cutugno, Christine L. PhD, RN


OVERVIEW: Atrial fibrillation, the most common chronic cardiac arrhythmia, adversely affects the quality of life of millions of people. The condition is frequently associated with advancing age, structural cardiac dysfunction, and preexisting comorbidities. The most common complications, stroke and heart failure, result in significant morbidity and mortality. Indeed, atrial fibrillation is responsible for over 450,000 hospitalizations and 99,000 deaths annually and adds up to $26 billion to U.S. health care costs each year. Given the aging of the U.S. population, the incidence of atrial fibrillation is expected to double within the next 50 years. There is evidence that nursing intervention in patient education and transition of care coordination can improve adherence to treatment plans and patient outcomes.


This article reviews the recently updated guideline for the management of atrial fibrillation, issued jointly by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Rhythm Society. It focuses on the prevention of thromboembolism and on symptom control, and stresses the importance of patient adherence to treatment plans in order to ensure better outcomes.