Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia in the United States, whose incidence is greatest in the elderly population. This rhythm disorder can be paroxysmal or chronic and is associated with a range of clinical conditions from palpitations and dyspnea to stroke and death. In the elderly the mainstay of treatment of atrial fibrillation should utilize drug therapy. The main goals of drug therapy should be effective rate control to avoid tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy, anticoagulation to reduce the risk of stroke and thromboembolism, and maintenance of sinus rhythm to prevent adverse atrial remodeling. In those patients in whom effective rate control cannot be achieved, catheter ablation of the atrioventricular node and implantation of a permanent pacemaker should be considered. Catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation by targeting pulmonary venous foci or pulmonary venous isolation currently remains investigational and we advocate its use be limited to symptomatic patients who have failed traditional therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine