About Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a condition characterized by an irregular and rapid beating of the heart's atrial chambers and results when the normal electrical conduction system of the atria is not functioning properly. In atrial fibrillation, there is a storm of electrical activity across both atria causing them to fibrillate (quiver) 300-600 times per minute.

It has been estimated that atrial fibrillation occurs in about 4% of the general adult population and affects approximately 2.2 million people in the United States. About 160,000 new cases of atrial fibrillation are diagnosed each year. Atrial fibrillation occurs about 1.5 times more frequently in males than in females. It is estimated that atrial fibrillation is responsible for over 60,000 strokes each year in the United States.

Atrial fibrillation is recognized as an independent risk factor for stroke and patients with atrial fibrillation are about 5-times more likely to suffer a stroke than people without atrial fibrillation. Other factors that increase the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation include:

  • History of previous stroke or "mini-strokes" known as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Advancing age (particularly age 75 or older)
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes

Some patients with atrial fibrillation may have minimal or no symptoms, whereas others may have severe symptoms especially at the onset of the arrhythmia. At onset, patients may complain of symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, cough, dizziness, fainting, and angina, but as the condition persists, the patient may complain of fatigue, shortness of breath and may show signs of pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs).

The initial diagnostic evaluation of atrial fibrillation focuses on a careful patient history, physical examination, and specific diagnostic studies such as an electrocardiogram, 24-hour Holter monitor, and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE).

The overall focus of care for patients with atrial fibrillation is the prevention of complications and maintenance of functional ability and quality of life which can be accomplished by achieving the following goals:

  • Treating any underlying disorders that may be causing atrial fibrillation
  • Restoring the heart back to normal sinus rhythm
  • Controlling the ventricular heart rate
  • Preventing blood clot formation and stroke

The choice of therapy for patients with atrial fibrillation depends on the individual situation and is based on the degree of disability and symptoms as well as the person's ability to tolerate the various treatments and medications.

Atrial fibrillation can either be managed with rate control or rhythm control. Rate control allows the patient to remain in atrial fibrillation, but controls the heart rate by slowing conduction at the AV node with various medications. The heart rate is considered to be controlled when it is between 60-80 beats per minute at rest and between 90-115 beats per minute during moderate exercise. Rhythm control allows for conversion back to normal rhythm either with medications or by delivering a direct current electrical shock to the heart (electrical cardioversion).

In the event that medications alone are not effective for controlling atrial fibrillation, other treatment options that may be considered include radiofrequency catheter ablation or a type of surgery known as a Maze procedure. The goal of these treatments is to destroy the specific areas of the heart that are the origin of the abnormal elecrical impulses that trigger atrial fibrillation. Select patients may also require an artificial pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator.

A main objective in the management of patients with atrial fibrillation is the prevention of blood clots that can lead to stroke. Studies have established that anticoagulation therapy reduces the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Anticoagulants are "blood thinning" medications that are used to prevent the formation of blood clots that can cause a stroke. Numerous options are available for anticoagulation therapy. In recent years, several newer anticoagulant drugs have been approved for patients with atrial fibrillation. The choice of which agent to use depends on a variety of factors, and it is not uncommon to start patients with one drug and, if necessary, to switch to another.

Symptoms associated with atrial fibrillation such as palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness can be a source of fear and anxiety for patients and also interfere with activities of daily living and overall quality of life. Impairment of quality of life, in turn, can lead to physical and emotional disturbances and can also negatively impact the patient's social well-being. It is, therefore, important for patients and their healthcare providers to aggressively manage atrial fibrillation and bring it under control to the greatest extent possible. Patients who develop anxiety disorder and/or panic attacks associated with atrial fibrillation should be referred to a mental health professional for treatment of the psychiatric disorder.

The Medifocus Guidebook on Atrial Fibrillation is a unique, comprehensive patient education resource that contains vital information about Atrial Fibrillation that you won't find anywhere else in a single resource. The Guidebook will answer many of your questions about this condition that your healthcare provider may not have the time to answer. To learn more about the Guidebook, please click here

About the Medifocus Guidebook on Atrial Fibrillation

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, it's important to learn as much as you possibly can about this condition so that you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

The Medifocus Guidebook on Atrial Fibrillation is a unique and comprehensive patient education resource that contains vital information about Atrial Fibrillation that you won't find anywhere else in a single source. Available both as a Soft-Cover Book and as an E-Book (PDF), the Guidebook will answer many of your questions about Atrial Fibrillation, including:

  • The causes and risk factors for Atrial Fibrillation.
  • The clinical signs and symptoms.
  • The diagnostic tests and procedures that are necessary to confirm the diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation.
  • The standard treatments and the treatment options currently available for the management of Atrial Fibrillation.
  • The impact of Atrial Fibrillation on quality of life.
  • The latest clinical and research advances for Atrial Fibrillation as reported in credible, trustworthy medical journals.
  • A directory of doctors and medical centers that have special interest and clinical expertise in the management of patients with Atrial Fibrillation.
  • A listing of organizations where patients can seek additional information, services, and support.

Whether you've been newly diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation or have suffered with it for several years, the Medifocus Guidebook on Atrial Fibrillation can serve as a valuable resource to help you better understand and cope with this condition. When you purchase your copy of either the Soft-Cover Book or the E-Book (PDF), you will also receive Free Updates for one-year.

Thousands of satisfied customers have purchased the Medifocus Guidebook on Atrial Fibrillation for themselves, a loved one, and even their healthcare provider. Their Testimonials are a tribute to the quality of the work product that our editorial staff has created. With a customer-satisfaction rating of over 98%, we're so confident that you will be satisfied with your purchase that we offer an iron-clad Risk-Free Satisfaction Guarantee. To learn more about the content, please download a Free Preview of the Guidebook that will enable you to review an abbreviated version of the individual sections.


The MediFocus Guidebook on Atrial Fibrillation has enhanced and clearly explained this condition for me. It has also enabled me to make choices with confidence regarding my treatment. The references in the medical literature section has put me in touch with the research base in this country. Many thanks.
Seaford, East Sussex
I found the MediFocus Guidebook on Atrial Fibrillation extremely informative and very easy to understand. As a result of the information in the Guidebook, I'm able to discuss my problem with my doctor in a more informed manner and make better decisions regarding treatment.
Agoura Hills, California
The Medifocus Guidebook on Atrial Fibrillation gave me far more information than was available from my doctor and helped me understand my condition.
Rancho Santa Fe, California
I found the book very helpful in making a decision as to getting an ICD implant or not. The format was very clear and concise. The reference material was also helpful. Overall, I would rate it a good value for the price.
Burlington, Ontario
The Medifocus Guidebook on Atrial Fibrillation made it possible for me to communicate with my cardiologist in a more productive and meaningful way. One result of this improved communication was that my doctor was far more precise in explaining to me some possible reasons for my atrial fibrillation. Another was a change in the medications I was taking. The book also relieved my anxiety about the consequences of AF. In my case, more knowledge meant more peace of mind.
San Luis Obispo, California