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J Gerontol Nurs. 2008 Jul;34(7):26-33; quiz 34-5.

Atrial fibrillation among older adults: pathophysiology, symptoms, and treatment.

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School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA.


Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia among older adults. Valvular heart disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, aortic stenosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, pericarditis, thyrotoxicosis, pulmonary disease, cardiac surgery, alcohol excess, and alcohol withdrawal are associated with atrial fibrillation. Nurses caring for older adults need to understand the condition's pathophysiology, signs and symptoms, diagnostic data and treatment protocols, and adherence issues to prevent the formation of emboli in chronic atrial fibrillation and to understand treatment of this common arrhythmia. This article presents an individual example of an elderly man exhibiting a new onset of atrial fibrillation and the interventions required to manage the associated complications. Atrial fibrillation places patients at risk for stroke from a thromboembolism; thus, pharmacological and nonpharmocological care strategies for managing patients with atrial fibrillation are discussed.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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