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Postgrad Med J. 2003 Jun;79(932):313-9.

Emergency management of atrial fibrillation.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Republic of Ireland.


Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia managed by emergency and acute general physicians. There is increasing evidence that selected patients with acute atrial fibrillation can be safely managed in the emergency department without the need for hospital admission. Meanwhile, there is significant variation in the current emergency management of acute atrial fibrillation. This review discusses evidence based emergency management of atrial fibrillation. The principles of emergency management of acute atrial fibrillation and the subset of patients who may not need hospital admission are reviewed. Finally, the need for evidence based guidelines before emergency department based clinical pathways for the management of acute atrial fibrillation becomes routine clinical practice is highlighted.

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