Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android. Learn more here!



  • Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common supraventricular tachycardia.

  • The management of AF centers on rate and/or rhythm control and prevention of stroke.

  • Risk of thromboembolic stroke must be assessed in every patient with AF so that appropriate preventive measures can be implemented. Medication therapy management (MTM) providers should be familiar with risk assessment tools and strategies for stroke prevention.

  • Medications used for stroke prevention, rate control, and rhythm control in AF have many important drug interactions (eg, warfarin, amiodarone). MTM providers should be vigilant for drug interactions in patients with AF and, when possible, recommend alternative therapies for other disorders that minimize the risk of significant interactions.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common supraventricular tachycardia seen in clinical practice.1 It is estimated that 6 million Americans were diagnosed with AF in 2010; this number is projected to double by the year 2030.2 Atrial flutter is less common than AF, yet the management is essentially the same. In general, the management of AF centers on rate and/or rhythm control and prevention of stroke. Table 14-1 lists risk factors for developing AF.

TABLE 14-1Risk Factors for AF

AF Definitions

  • AF—irregularly, irregular heart rate, which may present as tachycardia (atrial rate of 400 to 600 beats per minute [bpm]; ventricular rate of 120 to 180 bpm); characterized by disorganized atrial activation

  • Acute AF—onset of AF within the last 48 hours

  • Nonvalvular AF—AF in the absence of rheumatic mitral stenosis, a mechanical or bioprosthetic heart valve, or mitral valve repair

  • Paroxysmal AF—AF that terminates spontaneously within 7 days

  • Permanent AF—AF that does not terminate, despite therapy with drugs or electrical cardioversion

  • Persistent AF—AF that lasts longer than 7 days and does not terminate spontaneously

  • Postoperative AF—AF that occurs 3 to 5 days after surgery; usually self-terminating

  • Recurrent AF—two or more AF episodes

The management of AF is the same, irrespective of the type of AF - except for postoperative AF, which typically is treated for only one month.

Complications of AF


Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.