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West J Med. 1995 Apr;162(4):331-9.

Treatment of nonvalvular atrial fibrillation.

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  • Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, University of California, San Francisco, USA.

Abstract

Nonvalvular atrial fibrillation is an increasingly common condition. It may cause disabling symptoms and is an important risk factor for stroke. The goals of treatment include the relief and prevention of rate- and rhythm-related symptoms and the prevention of stroke and systemic emboli. Three principal treatments should be considered: pharmacologic rate control, cardioversion and antiarrhythmic therapy to restore and maintain sinus rhythm, and prophylactic anticoagulation or antiplatelet therapy to reduce the risk of stroke. The risks and benefits of each of these therapies have been reviewed. Symptoms, if present, can often be managed safely with rate-directed therapy alone. Until issues regarding safety and long-term efficacy are resolved, cardioversion and antiarrhythmic therapy should be limited to those patients whose symptoms cannot otherwise be controlled. The benefits of warfarin anticoagulation for the primary and secondary prevention of stroke in nonvalvular atrial fibrillation have been demonstrated convincingly by several randomized clinical trials. These benefits must be weighed against the real risk of major hemorrhage. For patients at low risk of stroke, the use of aspirin may be an acceptable alternative to warfarin sodium therapy.

PMID:
7747499
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1022771
Free PMC Article
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