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This publication is provided for historical reference only and the information may be out of date.

Cover of Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation

National Clinical Guideline for Management in Primary and Secondary Care

NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 36


London: Royal College of Physicians (UK); .
ISBN-10: 1-86016-282-7


The guideline covers aspects of diagnosis and the management of atrial fibrillation (AF) in a number of different circumstances. It covers paroxysmal, persistent and permanent AF, considers AF developing after surgical procedures, and offers advice on haemodynamically unstable AF. Many of the recommendations relate to control of AF and the important decision of whether to attempt to restore sinus rhythm or concentrate on control of the heart rate. In a linked set of recommendations, the importance of considering anticoagulation in all these patients is emphasised. This is sometimes neglected in clinical practice, but anticoagulation is of enormous potential benefit because of its role in stroke prevention, and one of the key recommendations in the guideline is that the risk of thromboembolism should be formally assessed. A simple clinical model that includes advice on appropriate prophylaxis is suggested for this purpose. Other key recommendations cover the use of the electrocardiogram in diagnosis, and the preference in most patients for beta-blockers or rate-limiting calcium antagonists over digoxin for rate control.


Acknowledgements: The Guideline Development Group would like to thank the following people for their valuable input during the development of this guideline: Mr Steven Barnes, Mrs Susan Clifford, Mr Rob Grant, Dr Bernard Higgins, Ms Jane Ingham, Ms Ester Klaeijsen, Dr Ian Lockhart, Ms Louise Martin, Ms Jill Parnham.

Mission statement: The Royal College of Physicians plays a leading role in the delivery of high quality patient care by setting standards of medical practice and promoting clinical excellence. We provide physicians in the United Kingdom and overseas with education, training and support throughout their careers. As an independent body representing over 20,000 Fellows and Members worldwide, we advise and work with government, the public, patients and other professions to improve health and healthcare.

The National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions: The National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions (NCC-CC) is a collaborative, multi-professional centre undertaking commissions to develop clinical guidance for the NHS in England and Wales. The NCC-CC was established in 2001. It is an independent body, housed within Clinical Standards Department at the Royal College of Physicians of London. The NCC-CC is funded by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to undertake commissions for national clinical guidelines on an annual rolling programme.

Suggested citation:

National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions. Atrial fibrillation: national clinical guideline for management in primary and secondary care. London: Royal College of Physicians, 2006.

Copyright © 2006, Royal College of Physicians of London.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form (including photocopying or storing it in any medium by electronic means and whether or not transiently or incidentally to some other use of this publication) without the written permission of the copyright owner. Applications for the copyright owner’s written permission to reproduce any part of this publication should be addressed to the publisher.

Bookshelf ID: NBK51113PMID: 21328802


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