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Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Dysrhythmia characterized by seemingly disorganized atrial depolarizations without effective atrial contraction
  • Caused by multiple re-entrant waveforms within the atria
  • Atrial rate ranges from 350–600 beats per minute (bpm).
  • Results in loss of organized atrial contractions and rapid ventricular rate:
    • Decrease in cardiac output
    • Prone to embolus formation
  • Most common clinical arrhythmia:
    • Prevalence increasing with age
    • Men are at higher risk


  • Systemic disease:
    • HTN
    • Hyperthyroidism
    • Chronic pulmonary disease
    • Infection
    • Pulmonary embolus
    • Hypoxia
    • Drugs (e.g., sympathomimetics)
    • Acute alcohol ingestion (holiday heart syndrome)
    • Obesity
    • Electrolyte disturbance
    • Thyroid disease
  • Underlying cardiac disease:
    • Cardiomyopathy
    • CAD
    • Valvular disease, especially mitral
    • Pericarditis
    • Sick sinus syndrome
    • Myocardial contusion
    • CHF
    • Congenital heart disease
  • Idiopathic:
    • Absence of any known etiologic factor
    • No clinical or echocardiographic evidence of heart disease

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Atrial Fibrillation." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307029/all/Atrial_Fibrillation.
Atrial Fibrillation. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307029/all/Atrial_Fibrillation. Accessed April 23, 2019.
Atrial Fibrillation. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307029/all/Atrial_Fibrillation
Atrial Fibrillation [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 23]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307029/all/Atrial_Fibrillation.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Atrial Fibrillation ID - 307029 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307029/all/Atrial_Fibrillation PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -