Atrial Fibrillation Research Paper

Topics: Cardiology, Atrial fibrillation, Myocardial infarction Pages: 8 (1666 words) Published: February 21, 2015


Atrial Fibrillation
Columbia Basin College

Table of Contents

Table of Contents…………………………………...………………….………………………….2 Condition….………………...…………………………………………………………………….3 Predisposing Factors………………………………………………………………………………3 Onset and Duration………………………………………………….……………………….....…3 Signs and Symptoms……………………………………………………………………………....4 Diagnostic Tests…..……………………………………………………………………………….4 Therapies and Pertinent Medications……………………………………………………………..5 Surgical and Medical Treatments…………………………………………………………………6 Prognosis…………………………………………………………………………………………..6 Summary and Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………7 References…………………………………………………………………………………………8

Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the leading arrhythmia disorder to affect the aging population. It affects approximately 2.3 million in the United States (Seifert, Collins & Ad, 2007). Atrial Fibrillation is defined as rapid and irregular atrial contractions that result in ineffective emptying of the atria. The two upper chambers (atria) beat out of sync with the two lower chambers (ventricles). This ineffective rhythm and ineffective emptying causes decreased cardiac output and stasis of blood. The stasis that results can cause harmful clots to pool in the atria putting patients at risk for thromboembolic stroke, pulmonary embolus, or renal embolus. An estimated 15% to 25% of strokes are associated with AF (Hardin & Steele, 2008). Predisposing Factors

Several factors place patients at risk for AF. A history of hypertension and/or coronary heart disease seems to be the most common underlying cause of AF. There are also various medical co-morbidities that will also place a patient at higher risk for AF for example; hyperthyroidism, anemia, infection, COPD and persistent myocardial ischemia (Walling, Spain & Edlund, 2011). Hardin and Steele (2008) found that the prevalence of AF increases with age and is more common in men than in women. As the population continues to age, the incidences of AF continue to rise due to changes in the vascular system and added co-morbidities. Onset and Duration

The onset of AF is often felt as palpitations or patients may feel their heart skip beats. Some patients are asymptomatic and diagnosis is made by chance. Symptomatic patients report feeling fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and syncope. According to Seifert, Collins and Ad (2007), there are three categories of AF: paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent. Paroxysmal AF is AF that is detected within 48 hours and terminates spontaneously. Persistent AF is sustained for more than seven days, does not terminate on its own, and requires treatment. Permanent AF is life-long and treatment fails to terminate. Sign and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of AF are palpitations due to the rapid atrial contractions. Because the heart is working harder and has a lower than normal cardiac output, patients often feel tired and run down. Patients may experience chest pain and shortness of breath from time to time as well. Patient’s that have AF will have an abnormal pulse on palpation. The nurse may actually be able to fill the pulse pause and skip beats. Sometimes, patients may not know they have AF until they experience a stroke and are evaluated in the emergency room. Diagnostic Tests

One test that is done often to confirm AF is an ECG. A present P wave in an ECG represents a normal atrial contraction. In AF, ECG tracings show small, erratic and irregular waves between each QRS complex with no visible P waves. The absence of a P wave is due to the atria not fully contracting but instead quivering. Another diagnostic test often used is an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart. An echocardiogram is performed to determine the size, ejection fraction, and functioning of the atriums and ventricles. Another type of test used is a holter monitor that uses electrodes like an ECG to record...

References: Deglin, J. H., Vallerand, A. H., & Sanoski, C. A. (2010). Davis 's drug guide for nurses. (12th
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Hardin, S., & Steele, J. (2008). Atrial fibrillation among older adults. Journal of Gerontological
nursing, 34(7), 26-33
Lip, G., & Hung-Fat, T. (2007). Management of atria fibrillation. The Lancet, 370(9587), 604-
618
Pamukcu, B., Lane, D., & Lip, G. (2010). The assessment of stroke and bleeding risk in atrial
fibrillation: Where are we now?
Seifert, P., Collins, J., & Ad, N. (2007). Surgery for atrial fibrillation. AORN Journal, 86(1), 23-
44
Walling, J., Spain, M., & Edlund, B. (2011). Anticoagulation therapy in older adults newly
diagnosed with atrial fibrillation
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