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Atrial Fibrillation - Adult - Inpatient/Ambulatory

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1
Atrial Fibrillation Management – Adult –
Inpatient/Ambulatory
Clinical Practice Guideline
Table of Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ........................................................................................................... 3
SCOPE ...................................................................................................................................... 4
METHODOLOGY ...................................................................................................................... 4
INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................................... 5
RECOMMENDATIONS .............................................................................................................. 5
UW HEALTH IMPLEMENTATION ............................................................................................. 5
REFERENCES .......................................................................................................................... 6
CPG Contact for Content:
Name: Jennifer Wright, MD - Cardiology
Phone Number: (608) 265-1038
Email Address: jmwright@medicine.wisc.edu
CPG Contact for Changes:
Name: Lindsey Spencer, MS – Center for Clinical Knowledge Management (CCKM)
Phone Number: 608-890-6403
Email Address: lspencer2@uwhealth.org
Note: Active Table of Contents
Click to follow link
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: 08/2015CCKM@uwhealth.org

2
Guideline Authors: American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association Task
Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society (with collaboration by the
Society of Thoracic Surgeons)
Coordinating Team Members:
Craig T. January, MD- Cardiology
Anne M. O’Connor, MD- Cardiology
Miguel Leal, MD- Cardiology
Shahab Akhter, MD- Cardiothoracic Surgery
Michael Repplinger, MD- Emergency Medicine
Teresa Darcy, MD- Clinical Laboratories
Ann McBride, MD- Internal Medicine
Prabhav Kenkre, MD- Hospitalists
Dipaben Patel, MD- Hospitalists
Anthony Muchard, MD- Hospitalists
Stephanie Kraus, CNS- Cardiology
Margaret Murray, CNS- Cardiothoracic Surgery
Anne Rose, PharmD- Pharmacy
Cindy Gaston, PharmD- Drug Policy Program
Jen Grice, PharmD- Center for Clinical Knowledge Management (CCKM)
Review Individuals/Bodies:
Jon Keevil, MD- Cardiology
Committee Approvals/Dates:
Inpatient Anticoagulation Committee (07/14/2014)
Ambulatory Anticoagulation Committee (09/22/2014)
Clinical Knowledge Management (CKM) Council (09/25/2014)
- Appendix (ED Algorithm 10/23/2014, 04/23/2015, 08/27/2015)
Release Date: August 2015
Next Review Date: September 2016
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: 08/2015CCKM@uwhealth.org

3
Executive Summary
Guideline Overview
UW Health has agreed to endorse the 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the
Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation.1 The recommendations include clinical
evaluation, diagnostic criteria, and therapeutic actions which are known or believed to
favorably affect health outcomes of patients with atrial fibrillation.
Key Practice Recommendations
1. Clinical Evaluation- electrocardiographic documentation.
2. Risk-Based Antithrombotic Therapy
3. Cardiac Surgery- LAA Occlusion/Excision
4. Rate Control
5. Thromboembolism Prevention
6. Direct-Current Cardioversion
7. Pharmacological Cardioversion
8. Antiarrhythmic Drugs to Maintain Sinus Rhythm
9. Upstream Therapy
10. AF Catheter Ablation to Maintain Sinus Rhythm
11. Surgery Maze Procedures
12. Special Considerations for Specific Populations (Athletes, Elderly, AF Complicating
ACS, Hyperthyroidism, Acute Noncardiac Illness, Pulmonary Disease, WPW and
Pre-Excitation Syndromes, Heart Failure, Familial AF, Postoperative Cardiac and
Thoracic Surgery)
Companion/Collateral Documents
1. ED Atrial Fibrillation Management Algorithm
2. Digestive Health Center Endoscopy Atrial Fibrillation Algorithm
2. UW Health Antithrombotics in Non-Valvular Atrial Fibrillation – Adult –
Inpatient/Ambulatory Guideline
3. UW Health Hypertension – Adult – Inpatient/Ambulatory Guideline
4. UW Health Heart Failure – Adult – Inpatient/Ambulatory Guideline
Pertinent UW Health Policies & Procedures
1. UWHC Policy 1.38- Elective Direct Current (DC) Cardioversion – Adult & Pediatric
Patient Resources:
1. Health Facts For You #6252: Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)
2. Health Facts For You #6900: Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) (English)
3. Health Facts For You #7085: Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) (Spanish)
4. Healthwise: Atrial Fibrillation
5. Healthwise: Atrial Fibrillation: Cardioversion or Medicines: Deciding About
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: 08/2015CCKM@uwhealth.org

4
Scope
Disease/Condition(s):
Atrial fibrillation
Clinical Specialty:
Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgery (Adult), Primary Care, Pharmacy, Emergency
Medicine, Hospitalists
Intended Users:
Cardiologists, Primary Care Physicians, Emergency Medicine Physicians, Pharmacists,
Registered Nurses, Cardiac Rehabilitation Therapists
CPG objective(s):
To provide evidence-based guidelines for optimum management of atrial fibrillation
(AF).
Target Population:
Adult patients with atrial fibrillation.
Guideline Metrics:
1. Proportion of patients discharged from Emergency Department vs. admitted
following implementation of ED Algorithm
2. Number of patients which receive follow-up within 48 hours following discharge from
Emergency Department
Methodology
Methods Used to Collect/Select the Evidence:
An extensive evidence review, focusing on 2006 to the present, was conducted through
October 2012, and selected other references through February 2014. Searches were
extended to studies, reviews, and other evidence that were conducted in human
subjects, published in English, and accessible via PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane,
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Reports, and other selected databases
relevant to this guideline.
Methods Used to Assess the Quality and Strength of the Evidence:
Review of the literature and weighing according to the rating scheme (see below).
Rating Scheme for the Strength of the Evidence and
Recommendations:
A modified Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation
(GRADE) developed by the American Heart Association and American College of
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: 08/2015CCKM@uwhealth.org

5
Cardiology (Figure 1) was used to assess the quality and strength of the evidence and
recommendations.
Figure 1
Introduction
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common cardiac rhythm disturbance and increases in
prevalence with advancing age. Approximately 1% of patients with AF are < 60 years of
age, whereas up to 12% of patients are 75 to 84 years of age.2 AF is associated with a
5-fold increased risk of stroke3, a 3-fold risk of heart failure4-6, and a 2-fold increased
risk of both dementia7 and mortality.3
Recommendations
Recommendations related to atrial fibrillation management can be found within the
following PDF of the 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS guideline or located online at
http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/03/27/CIR.0000000000000041.
UW Health Implementation
Plan/Tools
1. Guideline will be housed on U-Connect in a dedicated folder for clinical practice
guidelines.
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: 08/2015CCKM@uwhealth.org

6
2. Release of the guideline will be advertised in the Clinical Knowledge Management
Corner within the Best Practice Newsletter.
3. Cardiology will develop inpatient algorithms.
Disclaimer
CPGs are described to assist clinicians by providing a framework for the evaluation and
treatment of patients. This Clinical Practice Guideline outlines the preferred approach
for most patients. It is not intended to replace a clinician’s judgment or to establish a
protocol for all patients. It is understood that some patients will not fit the clinical
condition contemplated by a guideline and that a guideline will rarely establish the only
appropriate approach to a problem.
References
A complete list of the references may be found on pages 101-122 of the full 2014
AHA/ACC/HRS guideline located online at
http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/03/27/CIR.0000000000000041.
1. January CT, Wann LS, Alpert JS, et al. 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the
Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: A Report of the American College of
Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the
Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation. 2014.
2. Wolf PA, Benjamin EJ, Belanger AJ, Kannel WB, Levy D, D'Agostino RB. Secular
trends in the prevalence of atrial fibrillation: The Framingham Study. Am Heart J.
1996;131(4):790-795.
3. Kannel WB, Wolf PA, Benjamin EJ, Levy D. Prevalence, incidence, prognosis, and
predisposing conditions for atrial fibrillation: population-based estimates. Am J
Cardiol. 1998;82(8A):2N-9N.
4. Wang TJ, Larson MG, Levy D, et al. Temporal relations of atrial fibrillation and
congestive heart failure and their joint influence on mortality: the Framingham Heart
Study. Circulation. 2003;107(23):2920-2925.
5. Krahn AD, Manfreda J, Tate RB, Mathewson FA, Cuddy TE. The natural history of
atrial fibrillation: incidence, risk factors, and prognosis in the Manitoba Follow-Up
Study. Am J Med. 1995;98(5):476-484.
6. Stewart S, Hart CL, Hole DJ, McMurray JJ. A population-based study of the long-
term risks associated with atrial fibrillation: 20-year follow-up of the Renfrew/Paisley
study. Am J Med. 2002;113(5):359-364.
7. Ott A, Breteler MM, de Bruyne MC, van Harskamp F, Grobbee DE, Hofman A. Atrial
fibrillation and dementia in a population-based study. The Rotterdam Study. Stroke.
1997;28(2):316-321.
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: 08/2015CCKM@uwhealth.org

Brief Chart Review
& Medical Screening Exam
ü ECG Confirmed
Atrial Firbrillation
Compensated?
A,B
Low Immediate
CVA Risk?
C
Yes
Duration
< 48 Hours?
Yes
On Prior OAC for
> 3 weeks?
E
Option for
Cardioversion
D
(including
pharmacologic)
Yes
Nodal Blocking Agent
F
No
Heart Rate
< 110 bpm?
Yes
Initiate Anticoagulation if
CHA
2
DS
2
VASc ≥ 2
G
Yes
Sinus
Rhythm?
Yes
Yes
No
Not a Pathway
Candidate
No
Discharge
Follow-up contact within
24-48 hours
No
No
No or Unsure
ED Management of Atrial Fibrillation Algorithm
Additional Details
1
A.
History, vitals, TSH, CBC, BMP and CXR rules out
hyperthyroid, infection, new/severe anemia, renal failure,
PE, etc. (SBP<80, T>100.5, O
2
sat<90%, GFR<40)
B.
Signs and symptoms of heart failure (pulmonary edema,
elevated JVP, elevated BNP), hemodynamic instability, ST
depressions ≥ 2mm or STE, trop >0.1. Ask about orthopnea,
PND, edema.
C.
High risk= prior TIA or stroke, thromboembolism
rheumatic heart disease, artificial valve, systolic heart
failure
D.
Option per MD and patient.
2,3
Zoll defibrillator: start 75J,
repeat with 120J then 150J if does not convert. Lifepak
defibrillator: 200J biphasic synchronized shock, repeat 360J
if 200J does not convert. Pre-procedural SC enoxaparin if
not therapeutic on oral anticoagulation.
E.
Target-specific anticoagulant with no missed doses or
warfarin with consistent INR> 2. (AHA Class I, LOE B) Consider
TEE if unclear with therapeutic anticoagulation peri and
post procedure. (AHA Class IIa, LOE B)
F.
Metoprolol 2.5-5mg IV +/- 50mg PO. Diltiazem 0.25mg/kg
IV bolus then 5-15mg/hr +/- 30mg PO. Repeat IV prn. Home
dose per HR/BP
See Rate Control Dosing Table for options.
G.
With

some exceptions, anticoagulation for ≥4 weeks post
cardioversion. (AHA Class I, LOE B) If warfarin used for
cardioversion patients, consider bridging with enoxaparin
until INR is therapeutic. Cardiologist to determine duration.
If warfarin is used in a patient that is being rate controlled,
an enoxaparin bridge is not needed.
See Anticoagulation Flow Diagram for options.
NOTE: For low risk patients (CHA
2
DS
2
VASc < 1) with atrial
fibrillation < 48 hours, give pre-procedural enoxaparin.
Post-procedure anticoagulation is not necessary in patients
with CHA
2
DS
2
VASc = 0. (AHA Class IIb, LOE C) Post-procedure
anticoagulation may be considered in patients with
CHA
2
DS
2
VASc = 1.
4
No or Unsure
Last revised/reviewed: 04/2015
Contact CCKM for revisions.
Atrial Fibrillation- Adult- Inpatient/
Ambulatory Guideline
References
1. January CT, Wann LS, Alpert JS, et al. 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart
Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation. 2014.
2. Decker WW, Smars PA, Vaidyanathan L, et al. A prospective, randomized trial of an emergency department observation unit for acute onset atrial fibrillation. Ann Emerg Med. 2008;52(4):322-328.
3. Zimetbaum P, Reynolds MR, Ho KK, et al. Impact of a practice guideline for patients with atrial fibrillation on medical resource utilization and costs. Am J Cardiol. 2003;92(6):677-681.
4. Airaksinen KE, Grönberg T, Nuotio I, et al. Thromboembolic complications after cardioversion of acute atrial fibrillation: the FinCV (Finnish CardioVersion) study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013;62(13):1187-
1192.
Suggested Post-Discharge Follow-up
NOTE: All patients may be considered for referral to Cardiology.
By Primary Care Provider:
ξ Patients with known AF w/o heart failure or high risk
features previously managed by PCP
ξ Patients with new onset (first occurrence)
By Cardiology:
ξ Patients with known AF and regularly followed by
cardiologist (or seen by cardiologist within the last 2 yrs.)
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: 08/2015CCKM@uwhealth.org

Table 1. Common Medications for Atrial Fibrillation Rate Control
IV Administration Oral Maintenance Dose
Beta blockers
Metoprolol tartrate 2.5-5.0 mg IV bolus over 2 min; up to 3 doses 25 - 100 mg BID
Metoprolol XL (succinate) --- 50 - 400 mg QD
Atenolol --- 25 - 100 mg QD
Esmolol 500 mcg/kg IV bolus over 1 min, then 50-300 mcg/kg/min IV ---
Propranolol 1 mg IV over 1 min, up to 3 doses at 2 min
intervals
10 - 40 mg TID or QID
Nadolol --- 10 - 240 mg QD
Carvedilol --- 3.125 - 25 mg BID
Bisoprolol --- 2.5 - 10 mg daily
Nondihydropyridine
calcium channel
antagonists
Verapamil
(0.075-0.15 mg/kg) IV bolus over 2 min, may give
an additional 10mg after 30 min if no response,
then 0.005 mg/kg/min infusion
180 - 480 mg QD (ER)
Diltiazem 0.25 mg/kg IV bolus over 2 min, then 5-15 mg/h 120-360 mg QD (ER)
Digitalis glycosides Digoxin
0.25 mg IV with repeat dosing to a maximum of
1.5 mg over 24 hrs. 0.125 – 0.25 mg QD
Others Amiodarone 300 mg IV over 1 hr, then 10-50 mg/hr over 24 hrs. 100 - 200 mg QD
BID = twice daily; ER = extended release; QD = once daily; QID = four times a day; TID = three times a day
Last revised: 04/2015
Last reviewed: 04/2015
Contact CCKM for questions or revisions.
UW Health Atrial Fibrillation – Adult – Inpatient/Ambulatory Clinical Practice Guideline
Reference: January CT, Wann LS, Alpert JS, et al. 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: A Report of the American College of
Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation. 2014.
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: CCKM@uwhealth.org 08/2015

Start
Any type of
prosthetic valve,
rheumatic mitral
steno sis or mitral
valve repair?*
Us e warfarin
CrCl
(mL/min )
Use warfarin˄
Age
(years)
His tory of GI
bleed?
His tory of GI
bleed?
Us e warfarin or
apixab an
Us e warfarin ,
dabigatran,
rivaroxa ban , or
apixab an
Us e warfarin or
apixab an
Us e warfarin ,
rivaroxa ban , or
apixab an
Yes No
> 15 < 15
> 75
< 75
Yes No Yes No
Anticoagulation Flow Diagram
*Th e use of TSOAC s with mechan ical valves is contraind icated . There are no data in patien ts with biopro sthetic valves .
Last revised: 09/2014 Contact CCKM for revisions.
Atrial Fibrillation – Adult – Inpatient/Ambulatory Guideline
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: 08/2015CCKM@uwhealth.org

Patient Presentation for
Endoscopic Procedure
ü Bedside Telemetry
Confirmed Atrial
Fibrillation
Heart Failure,
Chest Pain, or
Hypotension?
C
Heart rate
> 110 bpm?
No
No
Send to ED
Yes
Digestive Health Center Endoscopy Atrial Fibrillation Algorithm
Additional Details
1
A.
RN should obtain vital signs, assess for related
symptoms and known history of arrhythmia.
Perform brief chart review for any previously
documented cardiac history (i.e., prior EKGs for
comparison) or treatment.
Notify the physician (or anesthesiologist if present)
performing the endoscopic procedure.
B.
If known history and rate well controlled, no need to
confirm with ECG.
C.
In general it is ok to proceed with procedural sedation in
patients with atrial fibrillation that are compensated (no
heart failure or hypotension). Symptoms of heart failure
may include: new or worsening lower extremity edema,
orthopnea, PND, elevated JVP, rales, dyspnea at rest or
inability to climb one flight of stairs.
If patient is tachycardic or hypotension limits
administration of AV nodal blocking agents, it is not
recommended to proceed with the procedure.
Evaluate volume status. If no symptoms of heart failure
and patient appears volume depleted, consider 500 mL
fluid bolus.
Recommended labs: Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Total
Carbon Dioxide, BUN, Creatinine, Magnesium, TSH
D.
Provided the above criteria are met, most patients may
undergo an endoscopic procedure. However, if the
physician feels otherwise, he/she may cancel the
procedure with provider follow-up in 5-10 days.
E.
See Dosing Table below for options.
NOTE: Consider contraindications before initiating a beta
blocker (i.e., COPD, steroid-dependent asthma, etc.).
Last revised/reviewed: 08/2015
Contact CCKM for revisions.
Atrial Fibrillation- Adult- Inpatient/Ambulatory Guideline
References
1. January CT, Wann LS, Alpert JS, et al. 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation:
A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the
Heart Rhythm Society. Circulation. 2014
Brief Chart Review & Medical Screening Exam
A
Obtain 12-lead ECG to assess current heart rhythm
if new onset
B
Initiate beta
blocker or calcium
channel blocker
E
Yes
New onset or
Heart rate
> 110 bpm?
Perform
Procedure
Follow-up with Provider in 5 -10 days
See Suggested Follow-up Box (to left)-
Consider metoprolol tartrate (25-50 mg BID) if heart
rate > 110 bpm. If the clinician feels that the patient
needs clinical follow-up in the next 24-48 hours, this
can be expedited via the Cardiology Clinic
(263-1530).
Yes
Follow-up as needed
with provider managing
atrial fibrillation
No
Suggested Follow-up
NOTE: All patients may be considered for
referral to Cardiology (263-1530)
By Primary Care Provider:
ξ Patients with known AF w/o heart failure or

high risk features previously managed by PCP
ξ

Patients with new onset (first occurrence)
By Cardiology:
ξ Patients with known AF and regularly followed
by cardiologist (or seen by cardiologist within
the last 2 years)
Heart rate
< 110 bpm ?
New
onset?
Yes
Physician
Preference
D
Proceed with
Procedure
Cancel
Procedure
Yes
No
Copyright © 2015 Univ ersity of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority
Contact: Lee Vermeulen, CCKM@uwhealth.org Last Revised: 08/2015CCKM@uwhealth.org

Yancy
Murray, Ralph L. Sacco, William G. Stevenson, Patrick J. Tchou, Cynthia M. Tracy and Clyde W.
T.E. Cigarroa, Jamie B. Conti, Patrick T. Ellinor, Michael D. Ezekowitz, Michael E. Field, Katherine
Craig T. January, L. Samuel Wann, Joseph S. Alpert, Hugh Calkins, Joseph C. Cleveland, Jr, Joaquin
Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society
Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on
2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: A
Print ISSN: 0009-7322. Online ISSN: 1524-4539
Copyright ' 2014 American Heart Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
is published by the American Heart Association, 7272 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX 75231Circulation
published online March 28, 2014;Circulation.
http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/03/27/CIR.0000000000000041.citation
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2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management of Patients With
Atrial Fibrillation


A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task
Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society

Developed in Collaboration With the Society of Thoracic Surgeons

WRITING COMMITTEE MEMBERS*

Craig T. January, MD, PhD, FACC, Chair
L. Samuel Wann, MD, MACC, FAHA, Vice Chair*
Joseph S. Alpert, MD, FACC, FAHA* Michael E. Field, MD, FACC, FHRS
Hugh Calkins, MD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS* § Katherine T. Murray, MD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS
Joseph C. Cleveland, Jr, MD, FACC║ Ralph L. Sacco, MD, FAHA
Joaquin E. Cigarroa, MD, FACC William G. Stevenson, MD, FACC, FAHA, FHRS*¶
Jamie B. Conti, MD, FACC, FHRS* Patrick J. Tchou, MD, FACC
Patrick T. Ellinor, MD, PhD, FAHA Cynthia M. Tracy, MD, FACC, FAHA
Michael D. Ezekowitz, MB, ChB, FACC, FAHA* Clyde W. Yancy, MD, FACC, FAHA

ACC/AHA TASK FORCE MEMBERS

Jeffrey L. Anderson, MD, FACC, FAHA, Chair
Jonathan L. Halperin, MD, FACC, FAHA, Chair-Elect
Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CCRN, FAHA Judith S. Hochman, MD, FACC, FAHA
Biykem Bozkurt, MD, PhD, FACC, FAHA Richard J. Kovacs, MD, FACC, FAHA
Ralph G. Brindis, MD, MPH, MACC E. Magnus Ohman, MD, FACC
Mark A. Creager, MD, FACC, FAHA** Susan J. Pressler, PhD, RN, FAHA
Lesley H. Curtis, PhD Frank W. Sellke, MD, FACC, FAHA
David DeMets, PhD Win-Kuang Shen, MD, FACC, FAHA
Robert A. Guyton, MD, FACC** William G. Stevenson, MD, FACC, FAHA**
Clyde W. Yancy, MD, FACC, FAHA**

*Writing committee members are required to recuse themselves from voting on sections to which their specific
relationships with industry and other entities may apply; see Appendix 1 for recusal information.
ACC/AHA Representative.
Heart Rhythm Society Representative.
§ACC/AHA Task Force on Performance Measures Liaison.
║Society of Thoracic Surgeons Representative.
¶ACC/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines Liaison.
**Former Task Force member during the writing effort.

This document was approved by the American College of Cardiology Board of Trustees, the American Heart Association
Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee, and the Heart Rhythm Society Board of Trustees in March 2014.

The online-only Comprehensive Relationships Data Supplement is available with this article at
http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC1.

The online-only Data Supplement files are available with this article at
http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2.

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The American Heart Association requests that this document be cited as follows: January CT, Wann LS, Alpert JS, Calkins
H, Cleveland JC, Cigarroa JE, Conti JB, Ellinor PT, Ezekowitz MD, Field ME, Murray KT, Sacco RL, Stevenson WG,
Tchou PJ, Tracy CM, Yancy CW. 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS guideline for the management of patients with atrial fibrillation: a
report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart
Rhythm Society. Circulation 2014;129:���� ����.

This article is copublished in Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Copies: This document is available on the World Wide Web sites of the American College of Cardiology
(www.cardiosource.org), the American Heart Association (my.americanheart.org), and the Heart Rhythm Society
(www.hrsonline.org). A copy of the document is available at http://my.americanheart.org/statements by selecting either the
By Topic link or the By Publication Date link. For copies of this document, please contact the Elsevier Inc. Reprint
Department, fax (212) 633-3820, e-mail reprints@elsevier.com.

Expert peer review of AHA Scientific Statements is conducted by the AHA Office of Science Operations. For more on
AHA statements and guidelines development, visit http://my.americanheart.org/statements and select the Policies and
Development link.

Permissions: Multiple copies, modification, alteration, enhancement, and/or distribution of this document are not permitted
without the express permission of the American Heart Association. Instructions for obtaining permission are located at
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/Copyright-Permission-Guidelines_UCM_300404_Article.jsp. A link to the
Copyright Permissions Request Form appears on the right side of the page.

(Circulation. 2014;129:000 000.)

' 2014 by the American Heart Association, Inc., the American College of Cardiology Foundation, and the Heart Rhythm Society.

DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041


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Table of Contents
Preamble ................................................................................................................................................................................... 5
1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................................................................... 9
1.1. Methodology and Evidence Review ............................................................................................................................. 9
1.2. Organization of the Writing Committee ....................................................................................................................... 9
1.3. Document Review and Approval .................................................................................................................................. 9
1.4. Scope of the Guideline ................................................................................................................................................ 10
2. Background and Pathophysiology ...................................................................................................................................... 11
2.1. Definitions and Pathophysiology of AF ...................................................................................................................... 12
2.1.1. AF Classification .............................................................................................................................................. 13
2.1.1.1. Associated Arrhythmias ............................................................................................................................... 14
2.1.1.2. Atrial Flutter and Macro Re-Entrant Atrial Tachycardia............................................................................. 14
2.2. Mechanisms of AF and Pathophysiology.................................................................................................................... 16
2.2.1. Atrial Structural Abnormalities ........................................................................................................................... 17
2.2.2. Electrophysiologic Mechanisms .......................................................................................................................... 18
2.2.2.1. Triggers of AF .............................................................................................................................................. 18
2.2.2.2. Maintenance of AF ....................................................................................................................................... 19
2.2.2.3. Role of the Autonomic Nervous System ...................................................................................................... 19
2.2.3. Pathophysiologic Mechanisms ............................................................................................................................ 20
2.2.3.1. Atrial Tachycardia Remodeling ................................................................................................................... 20
2.2.3.2. Inflammation and Oxidative Stress .............................................................................................................. 20
2.2.3.3. The Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System ............................................................................................... 20
2.2.3.4. Risk Factors and Associated Heart Disease ................................................................................................. 21
3. Clinical Evaluation: Recommendation ............................................................................................................................... 22
3.1. Basic Evaluation of the Patient With AF .................................................................................................................... 22
3.1.1. Clinical History and Physical Examination ......................................................................................................... 22
3.1.2. Investigations ....................................................................................................................................................... 23
3.1.3. Rhythm Monitoring and Stress Testing ............................................................................................................... 23
4. Prevention of Thromboembolism ....................................................................................................................................... 23
4.1. Risk-Based Antithrombotic Therapy: Recommendations ........................................................................................... 23
4.1.1. Selecting an Antithrombotic Regimen Balancing Risks and Benefits .............................................................. 26
4.1.1.1. Risk Stratification Schemes (CHADS2, CHA2DS2-VASc, and HAS-BLED) .............................................. 26
4.2. Antithrombotic Options .............................................................................................................................................. 29
4.2.1. Antiplatelet Agents .............................................................................................................................................. 29
4.2.2. Oral Anticoagulants ............................................................................................................................................. 31
4.2.2.1. Warfarin ....................................................................................................................................................... 31
4.2.2.2. Newer Oral Anticoagulants .......................................................................................................................... 34
4.2.2.3. Considerations in Selecting Anticoagulants ................................................................................................. 37
4.2.2.4. Silent AF and Stroke .................................................................................................................................... 39
4.3. Interruption and Bridging Anticoagulation ................................................................................................................. 40
4.4. Nonpharmacologic Stroke Prevention ........................................................................................................................ 41
4.4.1. Percutaneous Approaches to Occlude the LAA ................................................................................................... 41
4.4.2. Cardiac Surgery LAA Occlusion/Excision: Recommendation ......................................................................... 42
5. Rate Control: Recommendations ........................................................................................................................................ 43
5.1. Specific Pharmacological Agents for Rate Control .................................................................................................... 46
5.1.1. Beta Adrenergic Receptor Blockers .................................................................................................................... 46
5.1.2. Nondihydropyridine Calcium Channel Blockers ................................................................................................. 47
5.1.3. Digoxin ................................................................................................................................................................ 47
5.1.4. Other Pharmacological Agents for Rate Control ................................................................................................. 48
5.2. AV Nodal Ablation ..................................................................................................................................................... 48
5.3. Selecting and Applying a Rate Control Strategy......................................................................................................... 49
5.3.1. Broad Considerations in Rate Control ................................................................................................................. 49
5.3.2. Individual Patient Considerations ........................................................................................................................ 50
6. Rhythm Control .................................................................................................................................................................. 51
6.1. Electrical and Pharmacological Cardioversion of AF and Atrial Flutter .................................................................... 51
6.1.1. Thromboembolism Prevention: Recommendations ............................................................................................. 51
6.1.2. Direct-Current Cardioversion: Recommendations ............................................................................................... 52
6.1.3. Pharmacological Cardioversion: Recommendations ........................................................................................... 52
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6.2. Pharmacological Agents for Preventing AF and Maintaining Sinus Rhythm ............................................................. 56
6.2.1. Antiarrhythmic Drugs to Maintain Sinus Rhythm: Recommendations ............................................................... 57
6.2.1.1. Specific Drug Therapy ................................................................................................................................. 60
6.2.1.2. Outpatient Initiation of Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy ................................................................................ 64
6.2.2. Upstream Therapy: Recommendations ................................................................................................................ 64
6.3. AF Catheter Ablation to Maintain Sinus Rhythm: Recommendations ....................................................................... 65
6.3.1. Patient Selection .................................................................................................................................................. 66
6.3.2. Recurrence After Catheter Ablation .................................................................................................................... 68
6.3.3. Anticoagulation Therapy Periablation ................................................................................................................. 68
6.3.4. Catheter Ablation in HF ....................................................................................................................................... 69
6.3.5. Complications Following AF Catheter Ablation ................................................................................................. 69
6.4. Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators for the Prevention of AF ................................................... 70
6.5. Surgery Maze Procedures: Recommendations ............................................................................................................ 70
7. Specific Patient Groups and AF ......................................................................................................................................... 72
7.1. Athletes ....................................................................................................................................................................... 72
7.2. Elderly ......................................................................................................................................................................... 72
7.3. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: Recommendations .................................................................................................... 73
7.4. AF Complicating ACS: Recommendations ................................................................................................................ 74
7.5. Hyperthyroidism: Recommendations .......................................................................................................................... 75
7.6. Acute Noncardiac Illness ............................................................................................................................................ 76
7.7. Pulmonary Disease: Recommendations ...................................................................................................................... 76
7.8. WPW and Pre-Excitation Syndromes: Recommendations.......................................................................................... 76
7.9. Heart Failure: Recommendations ................................................................................................................................ 77
7.10. Familial (Genetic) AF: Recommendation ................................................................................................................. 79
7.11. Postoperative Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery: Recommendations ............................................................................ 80
8. Evidence Gaps and Future Research Directions ................................................................................................................. 83
Appendix 1. Author Relationships With Industry and Other Entities (Relevant) 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the
Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation ................................................................................................................... 85
Appendix 2. Reviewer Relationships With Industry and Other Entities (Relevant) 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the
Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation ................................................................................................................... 89
Appendix 3. Abbreviations ..................................................................................................................................................... 98
Appendix 4. Initial Clinical Evaluation in Patients With AF ................................................................................................. 99
References ............................................................................................................................................................................ 101

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Preamble
The medical profession should play a central role in evaluating the evidence related to drugs, devices, and
procedures for the detection, management, and prevention of disease. When properly applied, expert analysis of
available data on the benefits and risks of these therapies and procedures can improve the quality of care,
optimize patient outcomes, and favorably affect costs by focusing resources on the most effective strategies. An
organized and directed approach to a thorough review of evidence has resulted in the production of clinical
practice guidelines that assist clinicians in selecting the best management strategy for an individual patient.
Moreover, clinical practice guidelines can provide a foundation for other applications, such as performance
measures, appropriate use criteria, and both quality improvement and clinical decision support tools.
The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have jointly
engaged in the production of guidelines in the area of cardiovascular disease since 1980. The ACC/AHA Task
Force on Practice Guidelines (Task Force), whose charge is to develop, update, or revise practice guidelines for
cardiovascular diseases and procedures, directs this effort. Writing committees are charged with the task of
performing an assessment of the evidence and acting as an independent group of authors to develop, update or
revise written recommendations for clinical practice.
Experts in the subject under consideration are selected from both organizations to examine subject-
specific data and write guidelines. Writing committees are specifically charged to perform a literature review,
weigh the strength of evidence for or against particular tests, treatments, or procedure, and include estimates of
expected health outcomes where such data exist. Patient-specific modifiers, comorbidities, and issues of patient
preference that may influence the choice of tests or therapies are considered, as well as frequency of follow-up
and cost effectiveness. When available, information from studies on cost is considered; however, review of data
on efficacy and outcomes constitutes the primary basis for preparing recommendations in this guideline.
In analyzing the data, and developing recommendations and supporting text, the writing committee uses
evidence-based methodologies developed by the Task Force (1). The Class of Recommendation (COR) is an
estimate of the size of the treatment effect, with consideration given to risks versus benefits, as well as evidence
and/or agreement that a given treatment or procedure is or is not useful/effective or in some situations may cause
harm; this is defined in Table 1. The Level of Evidence (LOE) is an estimate of the certainty or precision of the
treatment effect. The writing committee reviews and ranks evidence supporting each recommendation, with the
weight of evidence ranked as LOE A, B, or C, according to specific definitions that are included in Table 1.
Studies are identified as observational, retrospective, prospective, or randomized, as appropriate. For certain
conditions for which inadequate data are available, recommendations are based on expert consensus and clinical
experience and are ranked as LOE C. When recommendations at LOE C are supported by historical clinical
data, appropriate references (including clinical reviews) are cited if available. For issues for which sparse data
are available, a survey of current practice among the clinician members of the writing committee is the basis for
LOE C recommendations and no references are cited. The schema for COR and LOE is summarized in Table 1,
which also provides suggested phrases for writing recommendations within each COR.
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A new addition to this methodology is separation of the Class III recommendations to delineate whether
the recommendation is determined to be of no benefit or is associated with harm to the patient. In addition,
in view of the increasing number of comparative effectiveness studies, comparator verbs and suggested phrases
for writing recommendations for the comparative effectiveness of one treatment or strategy versus another are
included for COR I and IIa, LOE A or B only.
In view of the advances in medical therapy across the spectrum of cardiovascular diseases, the Task
Force has designated the term guideline-directed medical therapy (GDMT) to represent optimal medical therapy
as defined by ACC/AHA guideline (primarily Class I)-recommended therapies. This new term, GDMT, is used
herein and throughout subsequent guidelines.
Because the ACC/AHA practice guidelines address patient populations (and clinicians) residing in
North America, drugs that are not currently available in North America are discussed in the text without a
specific COR. For studies performed in large numbers of subjects outside North America, each writing
committee reviews the potential impact of different practice patterns and patient populations on the treatment
effect and relevance to the ACC/AHA target population to determine whether the findings should inform a
specific recommendation.
The ACC/AHA practice guidelines are intended to assist clinicians in clinical decision making by
describing a range of generally acceptable approaches to the diagnosis, management, and prevention of specific
diseases or conditions. The guidelines attempt to define practices that meet the needs of most patients in most
circumstances. The ultimate judgment about care of a particular patient must be made by the clinician and
patient in light of all the circumstances presented by that patient. As a result, situations may arise in which
deviations from these guidelines may be appropriate. Clinical decision making should involve consideration of
the quality and availability of expertise in the area where care is provided. When these guidelines are used as the
basis for regulatory or payer decisions, the goal should be improvement in quality of care. The Task Force
recognizes that situations arise in which additional data are needed to inform patient care more effectively; these
areas are identified within each respective guideline when appropriate.
Prescribed courses of treatment in accordance with these recommendations are effective only if
followed. Because lack of patient understanding and adherence may adversely affect outcomes, clinicians
should make every effort to engage the patient s active participation in prescribed medical regimens and
lifestyles. In addition, patients should be informed of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to a particular treatment
and should be involved in shared decision making whenever feasible, particularly for COR IIa and IIb, for
which the benefit-to-risk ratio may be lower.
The Task Force makes every effort to avoid actual, potential, or perceived conflicts of interest that may
arise as a result of relationships with industry and other entities (RWI) among the members of the writing
committee. All writing committee members and peer reviewers of the guideline are required to disclose all
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current healthcare-related relationships, including those existing 12 months before initiation of the writing
effort.
In December 2009, the ACC and AHA implemented a new RWI policy that requires the writing
committee chair plus a minimum of 50% of the writing committee to have no relevant RWI (Appendix 1
includes the ACC/AHA definition of relevance). The Task Force and all writing committee members review
their respective RWI disclosures during each conference call and/or meeting of the writing committee, and
members provide updates to their RWI as changes occur. All guideline recommendations require a confidential
vote by the writing committee and require approval by a consensus of the voting members. Members may not
draft or vote on any recommendations pertaining to their RWI. Members who recused themselves from voting
are indicated in the list of writing committee members, and specific section recusals are noted in Appendix 1.
Authors and peer reviewers RWI pertinent to this guideline are disclosed in Appendixes 1 and 2. In addition,
to ensure complete transparency, writing committee members comprehensive disclosure
informationincluding RWI not pertinent to this documentis available as an online supplement
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC1). Comprehensive
disclosure information for the Task Force is also available online at
http://www.cardiosource.org/en/ACC/About-ACC/Who-We-Are/Leadership/Guidelines-and-Documents-Task-
Forces.aspx. The ACC and AHA exclusively sponsor the work of the writing committee, without commercial
support. Writing committee members volunteered their time for this activity. Guidelines are official policy of
both the ACC and AHA.
In an effort to maintain relevance at the point of care for clinicians, the Task Force continues to oversee
an ongoing process improvement initiative. As a result, in response to pilot projects, several changes to these
guidelines will be apparent, including limited narrative text, a focus on summary and evidence tables (with
references linked to abstracts in PubMed), and more liberal use of summary recommendation tables (with
references that support LOE) to serve as a quick reference.
In April 2011, the Institute of Medicine released 2 reports: Finding What Works in Health Care:
Standards for Systematic Reviews and Clinical Practice Guidelines We Can Trust (2, 3). It is noteworthy that
the Institute of Medicine cited ACC/AHA practice guidelines as being compliant with many of the proposed
standards. A thorough review of these reports and of our current methodology is under way, with further
enhancements anticipated.
The recommendations in this guideline are considered current until they are superseded by a focused
update, the full-text guideline is revised or until a published addendum declares it out of date and no longer
official ACC/AHA policy.

Jeffrey L. Anderson, MD, FACC, FAHA
Chair, ACC/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines


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A recommendation with Level of Evidence B or C does not imply that the recommendation is weak. Many important
clinical questions addressed in the guidelines do not lend themselves to clinical trials. Although randomized trials are
unavailable, there may be a very clear clinical consensus that a particular test or therapy is useful or effective.

*Data available from clinical trials or registries about the usefulness/efficacy in different subpopulations, such as sex, age,
history of diabetes mellitus, history of prior myocardial infarction, history of heart failure, and prior aspirin use.
For comparative-effectiveness recommendations (Class I and IIa; Level of Evidence A and B only), studies that support
the use of comparator verbs should involve direct comparisons of the treatments or strategies being evaluated.


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1. Introduction
1.1. Methodology and Evidence Review
The recommendations listed in this document are, whenever possible, evidence based. An extensive evidence
review, focusing on 2006 to the present, was conducted through October 2012, and selected other references
through February 2014. Searches were extended to studies, reviews, and other evidence that were conducted in
human subjects, published in English, and accessible via PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane, Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality Reports, and other selected databases relevant to this guideline. Key search words
included but were not limited to the following: age, antiarrhythmic, atrial fibrillation, atrial remodeling,
atrioventricular conduction, atrioventricular node, cardioversion, classification, clinical trial, complications,
concealed conduction, cost-effectiveness, defibrillator, demographics, epidemiology, experimental, heart
failure, hemodynamics, human, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, meta-analysis, myocardial infarction,
pharmacology, postoperative, pregnancy, pulmonary disease, quality of life, rate control, rhythm control, risks,
sinus rhythm, symptoms, and tachycardia-mediated cardiomyopathy. Additionally, the committee reviewed
documents related to atrial fibrillation (AF) previously published by the ACC and AHA. References selected
and published in this document are representative and not all-inclusive.
To provide clinicians with a comprehensive set of data, whenever deemed appropriate or when
published, the absolute risk difference and number needed to treat or harm are provided in the guideline, along
with confidence intervals (CI) and data related to the relative treatment effects such as the odds ratio (OR),
relative risk (RR), hazard ratio, or incidence rate ratio.
1.2. Organization of the Writing Committee
The 2014 AF writing committee was composed of clinicians with broad expertise related to AF and its
treatment, including adult cardiology, electrophysiology, cardiothoracic surgery, and heart failure (HF). The
committee was assisted by staff from the ACC and AHA. Under the guidance of the Task Force, the Heart
Rhythm Society was invited to be a partner organization and has provided representation. The writing
committee also included a representative from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The rigorous methodological
policies and procedures noted in the Preamble differentiate ACC/AHA guidelines from other published
guidelines and statements.
1.3. Document Review and Approval
This document was reviewed by 2 official reviewers each nominated by the ACC, the AHA, and the Heart
Rhythm Society, as well as 1 reviewer from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and 43 individual content
reviewers (from the ACC Electrophysiology Committee, Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology Council,
Association of International Governors, Heart Failure and Transplant Council, Imaging Council, Interventional
Council, Surgeons Council, and the HRS Scientific Documents Committee). All information on reviewers RWI
was distributed to the writing committee and is published in this document (Appendix 2).
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This document was approved for publication by the governing bodies of the ACC, AHA, and Heart
Rhythm Society, and endorsed by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
1.4. Scope of the Guideline
The task of the 2014 writing committee was to establish revised guidelines for optimum management of AF.
The new guideline incorporates new and existing knowledge derived from published clinical trials, basic
science, and comprehensive review articles, along with evolving treatment strategies and new drugs. This
guideline supersedes the 2006 ACC/AHA/ESC Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial
Fibrillation and the 2 subsequent focused updates from 2011 (4-7). In addition, the ACC/AHA, American
College of Physicians, and American Academy of Family Physicians submitted a proposal to the Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality to perform a systematic review on specific questions related to the treatment of
AF. The data from that report were reviewed by the writing committee and incorporated where appropriate (8).
The 2014 AF guideline is organized thematically with recommendations, where appropriate, provided
with each section. Some recommendations from earlier guidelines have been eliminated or updated, as
warranted by new evidence or a better understanding of earlier evidence. In developing the 2014 AF guideline,
the writing committee reviewed prior published guidelines and related statements. Table 2 is a list of these
publications and statements deemed pertinent to this effort and is intended for use as a resource.

Table 2. Associated Guidelines and Statements
Title Organization Publication Year/ Reference
Guidelines
Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on
Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment
of High Blood Pressure (JNC VII)
NHLBI 2003 (9)
Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk in Asymptomatic
Adults
ACCF/AHA 2010 (10)
Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery ACCF/AHA 2011 (11)
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy ACCF/AHA 2011 (12)
Percutaneous Coronary Intervention ACCF/AHA/SCAI 2011 (13)
Secondary Prevention and Risk Reduction Therapy for
Patients With Coronary and Other Atherosclerotic
Vascular Disease
AHA/ACCF 2011 (14)
Atrial Fibrillation* CCS 2011 (15)
Atrial Fibrillation ESC 2012 (16)
Device-Based Therapy ACCF/AHA/HRS 2012 (17)
Stable Ischemic Heart Disease ACCF/AHA/ACP/
AATS/PCNA/SCAI/STS
2012 (18)
Antithrombotic Therapy ACCP 2012 (19)
Heart Failure ACCF/AHA 2013 (20)
ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction ACCF/AHA 2013 (21)
Non ST-Elevation Acute Coronary Syndromes ACC/AHA 2014 In Press (22)
Valvular Heart Disease AHA/ACC 2014 (23)
Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk ACC/AHA 2013 (24)
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Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk AHA/ACC 2013 (25)
Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults AHA/ACC/TOS 2013 (26)
Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic
Cardiovascular Risk in Adults
ACC/AHA 2013 (27)
Statements
Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation AHRQ 2012 (8)
Oral Antithrombotic Agents for the Prevention of Stroke in
Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation: a Science Advisory for
Healthcare Professionals
AHA/ASA 2012 (28)
Expert Consensus Statement on Catheter and Surgical
Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation: Recommendations for
Patient Selection, Procedural Techniques, Patient
Management and Follow-Up, Definitions, Endpoints, and
Research Trial Design
HRS/EHRA/ECAS 2012 (29)
*Includes the following sections: Catheter Ablation for AF/Atrial Flutter, Prevention and Treatment of AF Following
Cardiac Surgery; Rate and Rhythm Management, Prevention of Stroke and Systemic Thromboembolism in AF and Flutter;
Management of Recent-Onset AF and Flutter in the Emergency Department; Surgical Therapy; The Use of Antiplatelet
Therapy in the Outpatient Setting; and Focused 2012 Update of the CCS AF Guidelines: Recommendations for Stroke
Prevention and Rate/Rhythm Control.

AATS indicates American Association for Thoracic Surgery; ACC, American College of Cardiology; ACCF, American
College of Cardiology Foundation; ACP, American College of Physicians; ACCP, American College of Chest Physicians;
AHA, American Heart Association; AHRQ, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; ASA, American Stroke
Association; AF, atrial fibrillation; CCS, Canadian Cardiology Society; ECAS, European Cardiac Arrhythmia Society;
EHRA, European Heart Rhythm Association; ESC, European Society of Cardiology; HRS, Heart Rhythm Society; JNC,
Joint National Committee; NHLBI, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; PCNA, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses
Association; SCAI, Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions; STS, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and TOS, The
Obesity Society.
2. Background and Pathophysiology
AF is a common cardiac rhythm disturbance and increases in prevalence with advancing age. Approximately 1%
of patients with AF are <60 years of age, whereas up to 12% of patients are 75 to 84 years of age (30). More
than one third of patients with AF are ≥80 years of age (31, 32). In the United States, the percentage of Medicare
Fee-for-Service beneficiaries with AF in 2010 was reported as 2% for those <65 years of age and 9 % for those
≥65 years of age (33). For individuals of European descent, the lifetime risk of developing AF after 40 years of
age is 26% for men and 23% for women (34). In African Americans, although risk factors for AF are more
prevalent, the AF incidence appears to be lower (35). AF is often associated with structural heart disease and
other co-occurring chronic conditions (Table 3; see also http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-
Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/Chronic-Conditions/Downloads/2012Chartbook.pdf). The mechanisms
causing and sustaining AF are multifactorial, and AF can be complex and difficult for clinicians to manage. AF
symptoms range from non-existent to severe. Frequent hospitalizations, hemodynamic abnormalities, and
thromboembolic events related to AF result in significant morbidity and mortality. AF is associated with a 5-
fold increased risk of stroke (36) and stroke risk increases with age (37). AF-related stroke is likely to be more
severe than non AF-related stroke (38). AF is also associated with a 3-fold risk of HF (39-41), and 2-fold
increased risk of both dementia (42) and mortality (36). Hospitalizations with AF as the primary diagnosis are
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>467,000 annually in the United States, and AF is estimated to contribute to >99,000 deaths per year. Patients
with AF are hospitalized twice as often as patients without AF; are 3 times more likely to have multiple
admissions; and 2.1% of patients with AF died in the hospital compared to 0.1% without it (43, 44). AF is also
expensive, adding approximately $8,700 per year (estimate from 2004 to 2006) for a patient with AF compared
to a patient without AF. It is estimated that treating patients with AF adds $26 billion to the U.S. healthcare bill
annually. AF affects between 2.7 million and 6.1 million American adults, and that number is expected to
double over the next 25 years, adding further to the cost burden (43, 44).
AF web-based tools are available, including several risk calculators and clinical decision aids
(http://www.cardiosource.org/Science-And-Quality/Clinical-Tools/Atrial-Fibrillation-Toolkit.aspx); however,
these tools must be used with caution because validation across the broad range of AF patients encountered in
clinical practice is incomplete.

Table 3. 10 Most Common Comorbid Chronic Conditions Among Medicare Beneficiaries With AF
Beneficiaries ≥65 y of age (N=2,426,865) Beneficiaries <65 y of age (N=105,878)
(mean number of conditions=5.8; median=6) (mean number of conditions=5.8; median=6)
N % N %
Hypertension 2,015,235 83.0 Hypertension 85,908 81.1
Ischemic heart disease 1,549,125 63.8 Ischemic heart disease 68,289 64.5
Hyperlipidemia 1,507,395 62.1 Hyperlipidemia 64,153 60.6
HF 1,247,748 51.4 HF 62,764 59.3
Anemia 1,027,135 42.3 Diabetes mellitus 56,246 53.1
Arthritis 965,472 39.8 Anemia 48,252 45.6
Diabetes mellitus 885,443 36.5 CKD 42,637 40.3
CKD 784,631 32.3 Arthritis 34,949 33.0
COPD 561,826 23.2 Depression 34,900 33.0
Cataracts 546,421 22.5 COPD 33,218 31.4
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; CKD, chronic kidney disease; COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder; and HF, heart
failure.
Reproduced with permission from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (45).

2.1. Definitions and Pathophysiology of AF
AF is a supraventricular tachyarrhythmia with uncoordinated atrial activation and consequently ineffective atrial
contraction (4-7, 29, 31). Electrocardiogram (ECG) characteristics include: 1) irregular R-R intervals (when
atrioventricular [AV] conduction is present), 2) absence of distinct repeating P waves, and 3) irregular atrial
activity.
Hemodynamic consequences of AF can result from a variable combination of suboptimal ventricular
rate control (either too rapid or too slow), loss of coordinated atrial contraction, beat-to-beat variability in
ventricular filling, and sympathetic activation (46-48). Consequences for individual patients vary, ranging from
no symptoms to fatigue, palpitations, dyspnea, hypotension, syncope, or HF (49). The most common symptom
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of AF is fatigue. The appearance of AF is often associated with exacerbation of underlying heart disease, either
because AF is a cause or consequence of deterioration, or because it contributes directly to deterioration (50,
51). For example, initially asymptomatic patients may develop tachycardia-induced ventricular dysfunction and
HF (tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy) when the ventricular rate is not adequately controlled (52, 53). AF
also confers an increased risk of stroke and/or peripheral thromboembolism owing to the formation of atrial
thrombi, usually in the left atrial appendage (LAA).
In the absence of an accessory AV pathway, the ventricular rate is determined by the conduction and
refractory properties of the AV node and the sequence of wave fronts entering the AV node (54-56). L-type
calcium channels are responsible for the major depolarizing current in AV nodal cells. Beta-adrenergic receptor
stimulation enhances AV nodal conduction, whereas vagal stimulation (muscarinic receptor activation by
acetylcholine) impedes AV nodal conduction (56). Sympathetic activation and vagal withdrawal such as with
exertion or illness, accelerates the ventricular rate. Each atrial excitation wave front that depolarizes AV nodal
tissue renders those cells refractory for a period of time, preventing successive impulses from propagating in the
node an effect called concealed conduction (56). This effect of concealed conduction into the AV node
explains why the ventricular rate can be faster and more difficult to slow when fewer atrial wave fronts are
entering the AV node, as in atrial flutter, compared to AF (54).
Loss of atrial contraction may markedly decrease cardiac output, particularly when diastolic ventricular
filling is impaired by mitral stenosis, hypertension, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), or restrictive
cardiomyopathy (4-7, 51, 57, 58). After restoration of sinus rhythm, atrial mechanical function fails to recover in
some patients, likely as a consequence of remodeling or underlying atrial disease and duration of AF (59).
Ventricular contractility is not constant during AF because of variable diastolic filling time and changes in the
force-interval relationship (4-7, 60, 61). Overall, cardiac output may decrease and filling pressures may increase
compared to a regular rhythm at the same mean rate. In patients undergoing AV nodal ablation, irregular right
ventricular (RV) pacing at the same rate as regular ventricular pacing resulted in a 15% reduction in cardiac
output (61). Irregular R-R intervals also promote sympathetic activation (46, 47).
2.1.1. AF Classification
AF may be described in terms of the duration of episodes and using a simplified scheme revised from the 2006
AF full-revision guideline, which is given in Table 4 (29, 31). Implanted loop recorders, pacemakers, and
defibrillators offer the possibility of reporting frequency, rate, and duration of abnormal atrial rhythms,
including AF (62, 63). Episodes often increase in frequency and duration over time.

Table 4. AF Definitions: A Simplified Scheme
Term Definition
Paroxysmal AF

• AF that terminates spontaneously or with intervention within 7 d of onset.
• Episodes may recur with variable frequency.
Persistent AF • Continuous AF that is sustained >7 d.
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Longstanding
persistent AF
• Continuous AF of >12 mo duration.
Permanent AF • Permanent AF is used when there has been a joint decision by the patient and clinician
to cease further attempts to restore and/or maintain sinus rhythm.
• Acceptance of AF represents a therapeutic attitude on the part of the patient and
clinician rather than an inherent pathophysiological attribute of the AF.
• Acceptance of AF may change as symptoms, the efficacy of therapeutic interventions,
and patient and clinician preferences evolve.
Nonvalvular AF • AF in the absence of rheumatic mitral stenosis, a mechanical or bioprosthetic heart
valve, or mitral valve repair.
AF indicates atrial fibrillation.

The characterization of patients with AF by the duration of their AF episodes (Table 4) has clinical
relevance in that outcomes of therapy, such as catheter ablation, are better for paroxysmal AF than for persistent
AF (29). When sinus rhythm is restored by cardioversion, however, the ultimate duration of the AF episode(s) is
not known. Furthermore, both paroxysmal and persistent AF may occur in a single individual.
Lone AF is a historical descriptor that has been variably applied to younger individuals without
clinical or echocardiographic evidence of cardiopulmonary disease, hypertension, or diabetes mellitus (4-7).
Because definitions are variable, the term lone AF is potentially confusing and should not be used to guide
therapeutic decisions.
2.1.1.1. Associated Arrhythmias
Other atrial arrhythmias are often encountered in patients with AF. Atrial tachycardias are characterized by an
atrial rate of ≥100 bpm with discrete P waves and atrial activation sequences. Atrial activation is most
commonly the same from beat to beat.
Focal atrial tachycardia is characterized by regular, organized atrial activity with discrete P waves,
typically with an isoelectric segment between P waves (Figure 1) (64, 65). Electrophysiological mapping reveals
a focal point of origin. The mechanism can be automaticity or a micro re-entry circuit (66, 67). In multifocal
atrial tachycardia, the atrial activation sequence and P-wave morphology vary (64).
2.1.1.2. Atrial Flutter and Macro Re-Entrant Atrial Tachycardia
Early studies designated atrial flutter with a rate of 240 bpm to 340 bpm as type I flutter, and this term has
commonly been applied to typical atrial flutter (65, 68). An ECG appearance of atrial flutter with a rate faster
than 340 bpm was designated as type II flutter, the mechanism of which remains undefined (69). It is now
recognized that tachycardias satisfying either of these descriptions can be due to re-entrant circuits or to rapid
focal atrial tachycardia.
Typical atrial flutter is a macro re-entrant atrial tachycardia that usually proceeds up the atrial septum,
down the lateral atrial wall, and through the cavotricuspid (subeustachian) isthmus between the tricuspid valve
annulus and inferior vena cava, where it is commonly targeted for ablation. It is also known as common atrial
flutter or cavotricuspid isthmus-dependent atrial flutter (64). This sequence of activation (also referred to as
counterclockwise atrial flutter ) produces predominantly negative saw tooth flutter waves in ECG leads II,
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III, and aVF, and a positive deflection in V1 (Figure 1). The atrial rate is typically 240 bpm to 300 bpm, but
conduction delays in the atrial circuit due to scars from prior ablation, surgery, or antiarrhythmic drugs, can slow
the rate to <150 bpm in some patients (65). When the circuit revolves in the opposite direction, flutter waves
typically appear positive in the inferior ECG leads and negative in V1 (reverse typical atrial flutter, also referred
to as clockwise typical atrial flutter ) (65). Unusual flutter wave morphologies occur in the presence of
substantial atrial disease, prior surgery, or radiofrequency catheter ablation; the P-wave morphology is not a
reliable indicator of the type of macro re-entrant atrial tachycardia in these situations (70-72). Atrial flutter is
often a persistent rhythm that requires electrical cardioversion or radiofrequency catheter ablation for
termination. It is often initiated by a brief episode of atrial tachycardia or by AF (69, 73). This relationship
between AF and atrial flutter may explain why ≥80% of patients who undergo radiofrequency catheter ablation
of typical atrial flutter will have AF within the following 5 years (74).
AF may be misdiagnosed as atrial flutter when AF activity is prominent on ECG (75, 76). Atrial flutter
may also arise during treatment with antiarrhythmic agents prescribed to prevent recurrent AF (77), particularly
sodium channel blocking antiarrhythmic drugs such as flecainide or propafenone. Catheter ablation of the
cavotricuspid isthmus is effective for prevention of recurrent atrial flutter in these patients while allowing
continued antiarrhythmic treatment to prevent recurrent AF (78).
Atypical flutter, or noncavotricuspid isthmus-dependent macro re-entrant atrial tachycardia, describes
macro re-entrant atrial tachycardias that are not one of the typical forms of atrial flutter that use the
cavotricuspid isthmus (64). A variety of re-entrant circuits has been described, including perimitral flutter re-
entry involving the roof of the left atrium (LA), and re-entry around scars in the left or right atrium, often from
prior surgery or ablation (65, 67, 79). Complex re-entry circuits with >1 re-entry loop or circuit can occur and
often coexist with common atrial flutter. These arrhythmias are not abolished by ablation of the cavotricuspid
isthmus, but their recognition and distinction from common atrial flutter usually requires electrophysiologic
study with atrial mapping (65). A variety of terms has been applied to these arrhythmias according to the re-
entry circuit location, including LA flutter and LA macro re-entrant tachycardia (65, 67, 79, 80).

Figure 1. Atrial Tachycardias
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Diagram summarizing types of atrial tachycardias often encountered in patients with a history of AF, including those seen
after catheter or surgical ablation procedures. P-wave morphologies are shown for common types of atrial flutter; however,
the P-wave morphology is not always a reliable guide to the re-entry circuit location or to the distinction between common
atrial flutter and other macro re-entrant atrial tachycardias.
*Exceptions to P-wave morphology and rate are common in scarred atria.

AF indicates atrial fibrillation and ECG, electrocardiogram (72, 80).

2.2. Mechanisms of AF and Pathophysiology
AF occurs when structural and/or electrophysiologic abnormalities alter atrial tissue to promote abnormal
impulse formation and/or propagation (Figure 2). These abnormalities are caused by diverse pathophysiologic
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mechanisms (4-7, 29, 81, 82), such that AF represents a final common phenotype for multiple disease pathways
and mechanisms that are incompletely understood.

Figure 2. Mechanisms of AF

AF indicates atrial fibrillation; Ca++ ionized calcium; and RAAS, renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system.
2.2.1. Atrial Structural Abnormalities
Any disturbance of atrial architecture potentially increases susceptibility to AF (4-7). Such changes (e.g.,
inflammation, fibrosis, hypertrophy) occur most commonly in the setting of underlying heart disease associated
with hypertension, coronary artery disease (CAD), valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathies, and HF which tend
to increase LA pressure, cause atrial dilation, and alter wall stress. Similarly, atrial ischemia from CAD and
infiltrative diseases such as amyloidosis, hemochromatosis, and sarcoidosis, can also promote AF. Additional
promoters include extracardiac factors such as hypertension, sleep apnea, obesity, alcohol/drugs, and
hyperthyroidism, which have pathophysiologic effects on atrial cellular structure and/or function. Even in
patients with paroxysmal AF without recognized structural heart disease, atrial biopsies have revealed
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inflammatory infiltrates consistent with myocarditis and fibrosis (83). In addition, prolonged rapid atrial pacing
increases arrhythmia susceptibility and forms the basis for a well-studied model of AF. In the atria of patients
with established AF and of animals subjected to rapid atrial pacing, there is evidence of myocyte loss from
glycogen deposits and of mitochondrial disturbances and gap-junction abnormalities that cause cell necrosis and
apoptosis (4-7). These structural abnormalities can heterogeneously alter impulse conduction and/or
refractoriness, generating an arrhythmogenic substrate.
A common feature of both experimental and human AF is myocardial fibrosis (84). The atria are more
sensitive to profibrotic signaling and harbor a greater number of fibroblasts than the ventricles. Atrial stretch
activates the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, which generates multiple downstream profibrotic factors,
including transforming growth factor-beta1. Additional mechanisms, including inflammation and genetic factors,
can also promote atrial fibrosis. The canine rapid ventricular pacing model of HF causes extensive atrial fibrosis
and increases AF susceptibility (85). Fibrosis also occurs in the rapid atrial pacing model of AF. Late
gadolinium-enhancement magnetic resonance imaging is used to image and quantitate atrial fibrosis
noninvasively (86-91). Human studies show a strong correlation between regions of low voltage on electro-
anatomic mapping and areas of late enhancement on magnetic resonance imaging. Preliminary results suggest
that the severity of atrial fibrosis correlates with the risk of stroke (87) and decreased response to catheter
ablation (86).
2.2.2. Electrophysiologic Mechanisms
AF requires both a trigger for initiation and an appropriate anatomic substrate for maintenance, both of which
are potential targets for therapy. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the electrophysiologic
mechanisms that initiate and maintain AF (4-7, 29). In humans, the situation is complex, and it is likely that
multiple mechanisms coexist in an individual patient.
2.2.2.1. Triggers of AF
Ectopic focal discharges often initiate AF (92-94). Rapidly firing foci initiating paroxysmal AF arise most
commonly from LA myocardial sleeves that extend into the pulmonary veins. These observations led to the
development of pulmonary vein isolation as the cornerstone for radiofrequency catheter ablation strategies (29).
Unique anatomic and electrophysiologic features of the pulmonary veins and atriopulmonary vein junctions may
account for their arrhythmogenic nature. Atrial myocardial fibers are oriented in disparate directions around the
pulmonary veins and the posterior LA, with considerable anatomic variability among individuals. Conduction
abnormalities that promote re-entry are likely due to relatively depolarized resting potentials in pulmonary vein
myocytes that promote sodium channel inactivation and to the abrupt changes in fiber orientation. Re-entry is
further favored by abbreviated action potentials and refractoriness in pulmonary vein myocytes (95). Isolated
pulmonary vein myocytes also demonstrate abnormal automaticity and triggered activity that could promote
rapid focal firing. Additional potential sources for abnormal activity include interstitial cells (similar to
pacemaker cells in the gastrointestinal tract) (96) and melanocytes (97), both of which have been identified in
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pulmonary veins. Although the pulmonary veins are the most common sites for ectopic focal triggers, triggers
can also arise elsewhere, including the posterior LA, ligament of Marshall, coronary sinus, venae cavae, septum,
and appendages.
Abnormal intracellular calcium handling may also play a role in AF owing to diastolic calcium leak
from the sarcoplasmic reticulum, which can trigger delayed after depolarizations (98-102).
2.2.2.2. Maintenance of AF
Theories proposed to explain the perpetuation and maintenance of AF include 1) multiple independent re-entrant
wavelets associated with heterogeneous conduction and refractoriness; 2) ≥1 rapidly firing foci, which may be
responsive to activity from cardiac ganglion plexi; and 3) ≥1 rotors, or spiral wave re-entrant circuits (29, 82, 84,
103-109). With a single rapid focus or rotor excitation, wave fronts may encounter refractory tissue and break
up during propagation, resulting in irregular or fibrillatory conduction (29, 103, 106). Both rapid focal firing and
re-entry may be operative during AF.
These presumed mechanisms have driven the development of therapies. The atrial maze procedure and
ablation lines may interrupt paths for multiple wavelets and spiral re-entry. Using a biatrial phase mapping
approach, a limited number of localized, rapid drivers (mean of approximately 2 per patient) were identified in a
small group of patients with various types of AF (108). In most cases, these localized sources appeared to be re-
entrant, while in others they were consistent with focal triggers and radiofrequency catheter ablation targeting of
these sites often terminated or slowed AF. Other investigators, using a noninvasive continuous biatrial mapping
system, report contrasting results, observing mostly evidence for multiple wavelets and focal sites rather than
rotor activity (110).
Some investigators targeted regions in which electrogram recordings show rapid complex atrial
fractionated electrograms, which are felt to be indicative of the substrate for AF or markers for ganglion plexi
(see Section 2.2.2.3. for ablation of AF) (105). The relation of complex atrial fractionated electrograms to AF
remains controversial.
2.2.2.3. Role of the Autonomic Nervous System
Autonomic stimulation can provoke AF (29, 94, 111). Activation of the parasympathetic and/or sympathetic
limbs can provoke atrial arrhythmias (104, 112). Acetylcholine activates a specific potassium current, IK,ACh,
that heterogeneously shortens atrial action potential duration and refractoriness, increasing susceptibility to re-
entry. Sympathetic stimulation increases intracellular calcium, which promotes automaticity and triggered
activity. Increased parasympathetic and/or sympathetic activity prior to onset of AF has been observed in some
animal models and humans (113, 114).
Plexi of autonomic ganglia that constitute the intrinsic cardiac autonomic nervous system are located in
epicardial fat near the pulmonary vein-LA junctions and the ligament of Marshall. Stimulation of the ganglia in
animals elicits repetitive bursts of rapid atrial activity. These plexi are often located in proximity to atrial sites
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where complex atrial fractionated electrograms are recorded. Ablation targeting these regions improved
outcomes over pulmonary vein isolation alone in some but not all studies (115-117).
In some patients with structurally normal hearts, AF is precipitated during conditions of high-
parasympathetic tone, such as during sleep and following meals, and is referred to as vagally mediated AF
(118). Avoidance of drugs, such as digoxin, that enhance parasympathetic tone has been suggested in these
patients, but this remains an unproven hypothesis. Catheter ablation targeting ganglion plexi involved in vagal
responses abolished AF in only 2 of 7 patients in 1 small series (116). Adrenergic stimulation, as during
exercise, can also provoke AF in some patients (119).
2.2.3. Pathophysiologic Mechanisms
2.2.3.1. Atrial Tachycardia Remodeling
AF often progresses from paroxysmal to persistent over a variable period of time. Cardioversion of AF and
subsequent maintenance of sinus rhythm are more likely to be successful when AF duration is <6 months (120).
The progressive nature of AF is consistent with studies demonstrating that AF causes electrical and structural
remodeling such that AF begets AF (4-7, 121, 122).
2.2.3.2. Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Inflammation (e.g., associated with pericarditis and cardiac surgery), may be linked to AF and can be correlated
with a rise in plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein (4-7, 81). Inflammatory infiltrates consistent with
myocarditis are often present in the atria of patients with AF and in animals with atrial dilation. Plasma
concentrations of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 are elevated in AF; increased C-reactive protein predicts
the development of AF and relapse after cardioversion; and genetic variants in the interleukin-6 promoter region
may influence the development of postoperative AF. In the canine pericarditis and atrial tachypacing models,
prednisone suppresses AF susceptibility and reduces plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein (123).
Aging, environmental stress, inflammation, and activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system
can cause oxidative damage in the atrium. Oxidative changes are present in the atrial tissue of patients with AF
and are associated with upregulation of genes involved in the production of reactive oxygen species. In human
AF and a porcine model of atrial tachypacing, atrial superoxide production increased, with an apparent
contribution of NAD(P)H oxidase (124). The antioxidant ascorbate attenuated electrical remodeling in the
canine atrial tachypacing model and reduced postoperative AF in a small study in humans (125).
2.2.3.3. The Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System
Stimulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system promotes structural and likely electrophysiologic
effects in the atrium and ventricle that increase arrhythmia susceptibility (4-7, 81). In addition to adverse
hemodynamic effects, activation of multiple cell signaling cascades promotes increased intracellular calcium,
hypertrophy, apoptosis, cytokine release and inflammation, oxidative stress, and production of growth-related
factors that also stimulate fibrosis, as well as possible modulation of ion channel and gap-junction dynamics.
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Components of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (including angiotensin II, angiotensin-converting
enzyme [ACE], and aldosterone) are synthesized locally in the atrial myocardium and are increased during atrial
tachypacing and AF. Variants in the ACE gene that increase angiotensin II plasma concentrations can elevate
risk of AF, while selective cardiac overexpression of ACEs causes atrial dilation, fibrosis, and increased
susceptibility of AF. Therapy with these agents can reduce the occurrence of AF in patients with hypertension or
left ventricular (LV) dysfunction but does not help prevent recurrence of AF in the absence of these other
indications for these drugs (Section 6.2.1).
Aldosterone plays an important role in angiotensin II-mediated inflammation and fibrosis; in patients
with primary hyperaldosteronism, the incidence of AF is increased. In experimental models of HF,
spironolactone and eplerenone decreased atrial fibrosis and/or susceptibility of AF. Eplerenone therapy is
associated with decreased AF in patients with HF (126).
2.2.3.4. Risk Factors and Associated Heart Disease
Multiple clinical risk factors, electrocardiographic and echocardiographic features, and biochemical makers are
associated with an increased risk of AF (Table 5). One epidemiologic analysis found that 56% of the population-
attributable risk of AF could be explained by ≥1 common risk factor (127). Thus, it may be possible to prevent
some cases of AF through risk factor modification such as blood pressure control or weight loss.
Many potentially reversible causes of AF have been reported, including binge drinking, cardiothoracic
and noncardiac surgery, myocardial infarction (MI), pericarditis, myocarditis, hyperthyroidism, electrocution,
pneumonia, and pulmonary embolism (11, 50, 128-130). AF that occurs in the setting of Wolff-Parkinson-White
(WPW) syndrome, AV nodal re-entrant tachycardia, or atrial ectopic tachycardia may resolve after catheter
ablation for these arrhythmias (69). It is important to recognize that there are few data to support the notion that
patients with AF that occurs in the setting of 1 of these potentially reversible conditions are, in fact, cured of
AF after effective treatment or elimination of the condition. Since long-term follow-up data are not available in
these clinical scenarios and AF may recur, these patients should receive careful follow-up.

Table 5. Selected Risk Factors and Biomarkers for AF
Clinical Risk Factors References
Increasing age (131)
Hypertension (131)
Diabetes mellitus (131)
MI (131)
VHD (131)
HF (39, 131)
Obesity (132-134)
Obstructive sleep apnea (134)
Cardiothoracic surgery (129)
Smoking (135)
Exercise (136-138)
Alcohol use (139-141)
Hyperthyroidism (142-144)
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Increased pulse pressure (145)
European ancestry (146)
Family history (147)
Genetic variants (148-151)
Electrocardiographic
LVH (36)
Echocardiographic
LA enlargement (36, 152)
Decreased LV fractional shortening (36)
Increased LV wall thickness (36)
Biomarkers
Increased CRP (153, 154)
Increased BNP (155, 156)
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; BNP, B-type natriuretic peptide; CRP, C-reactive protein; HF, heart failure; LA, left atrial;
LV, left ventricular; LVH, left ventricular hypertrophy; MI, myocardial infarction; and VHD, valvular heart disease.

See Online Data Supplements 1 and 2 for additional data on electrophysiologic and pathophysiologic
mechanisms (http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
3. Clinical Evaluation: Recommendation

Class I
1. Electrocardiographic documentation is recommended to establish the diagnosis of AF. (Level of
Evidence: C)

The diagnosis of AF in a patient is based on the patient s clinical history and physical examination and is
confirmed by ECG, ambulatory rhythm monitoring (e.g., telemetry, Holter monitor, event recorders), implanted
loop recorders, pacemakers or defibrillators, or, in rare cases, by electrophysiological study. The clinical
evaluations, including additional studies that may be required, are summarized in Appendix 4.
3.1. Basic Evaluation of the Patient With AF
3.1.1. Clinical History and Physical Examination
The initial evaluation of a patient with suspected or proven AF involves characterizing the pattern of the
arrhythmia (paroxysmal, persistent, longstanding persistent, or permanent), determining its cause, defining
associated cardiac and extracardiac disease, and assessing thromboembolic risk. Symptoms, prior treatment,
family history, and a review of associated conditions and potentially reversible risk factors as outlined in Table 5
should be recorded.
The physical examination suggests AF by the presence of an irregular pulse, irregular jugular venous
pulsations, and variation in the intensity of the first heart sound or absence of a fourth sound previously heard
during sinus rhythm. Physical examination may also disclose associated valvular heart disease or myocardial
abnormalities. The pulse in atrial flutter is often regular and rapid, and venous oscillations may be visible in the
jugular pulse.
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3.1.2. Investigations
An ECG, or other electrocardiographic recording, is the essential tool for confirming AF. A chest radiograph
should be done if pulmonary disease or HF is suspected and may also detect enlargement of the cardiac
chambers. As part of the initial evaluation, all patients with AF should have a 2-dimensional transthoracic
echocardiogram to detect underlying structural heart disease, assess cardiac function, and evaluate atrial size.
Additional laboratory evaluation should include assessment of serum electrolytes; thyroid, renal, and hepatic
function; and a blood count.
Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE): TEE is the most sensitive and specific technique to
detect LA thrombi as a potential source of systemic embolism in AF and can be used to guide the timing of
cardioversion or catheter ablation procedures (Section 6.1.1). TEE can also identify features associated with an
increased risk of LA thrombus formation, including reduced LAA flow velocity, spontaneous LA contrast, and
aortic atheroma. In 5% to 15% of patients with AF, a TEE before planned cardioversion revealed a LA or LAA
thrombus (157, 158).
Electrophysiological Study: An electrophysiological study can be helpful when initiation of AF is due
to a supraventricular tachycardia, such as AV node re-entrant tachycardia, AV re-entry involving an accessory
pathway, or ectopic atrial tachycardia. Ablation of the supraventricular tachycardia may prevent or reduce
recurrences of AF. Electrophysiological study is often warranted in patients with a delta wave on the surface
ECG indicating pre-excitation. Some patients with AF also have atrial flutter that may benefit from treatment
with radiofrequency catheter ablation. AF associated with rapid ventricular rates and a wide-complex QRS
(aberrant conduction) may sometimes be mislabeled as ventricular tachycardia, and an electrophysiological
study can help establish the correct diagnosis.
Additional Investigation of Selected Patients With AF: Plasma levels of B-type natriuretic peptide or
N-terminal pro- B-type natriuretic peptide may be elevated in patients with paroxysmal and persistent AF in the
absence of clinical HF, and levels decrease rapidly after restoration of sinus rhythm. A sleep study may be
useful if sleep apnea is suspected (159).
3.1.3. Rhythm Monitoring and Stress Testing
Prolonged or frequent monitoring may be necessary to reveal episodes of asymptomatic AF. ECG, ambulatory
rhythm monitoring (e.g., telemetry, Holter monitor, and event recorders), and exercise testing can be useful to
judge the adequacy of rate control. Patient-activated ECG event recorders can help assess the relation to
symptoms, whereas auto-triggered event recorders may detect asymptomatic episodes. These technologies may
also provide valuable information to guide drug dosage for rate control or rhythm management.
4. Prevention of Thromboembolism
4.1. Risk-Based Antithrombotic Therapy: Recommendations
See Table 6 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
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Class I
1. In patients with AF, antithrombotic therapy should be individualized based on shared decision-
making after discussion of the absolute and RRs of stroke and bleeding, and the patient s values
and preferences. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. Selection of antithrombotic therapy should be based on the risk of thromboembolism irrespective
of whether the AF pattern is paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent (160-163). (Level of Evidence:
B)
3. In patients with nonvalvular AF, the CHA2DS2-VASc score is recommended for assessment of
stroke risk (164-166). (Level of Evidence: B)
4. For patients with AF who have mechanical heart valves, warfarin is recommended and the target
international normalized ratio (INR) intensity (2.0 to 3.0 or 2.5 to 3.5) should be based on the type
and location of the prosthesis (167-169). (Level of Evidence: B)
5. For patients with nonvalvular AF with prior stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a
CHA2DS2-VASc score of 2 or greater, oral anticoagulants are recommended. Options include:
warfarin (INR 2.0 to 3.0) (164-166) (Level of Evidence: A), dabigatran (170) (Level of Evidence: B),
rivaroxaban (171) (Level of Evidence: B), or apixaban (172). (Level of Evidence: B)
6. Among patients treated with warfarin, the INR should be determined at least weekly during
initiation of antithrombotic therapy and at least monthly when anticoagulation (INR in range) is
stable (173-175). (Level of Evidence: A)
7. For patients with nonvalvular AF unable to maintain a therapeutic INR level with warfarin, use
of a direct thrombin or factor Xa inhibitor (dabigatran, rivaroxaban, or apixaban) is
recommended. (Level of Evidence: C)
8. Re-evaluation of the need for and choice of antithrombotic therapy at periodic intervals is
recommended to reassess stroke and bleeding risks. (Level of Evidence: C)
9. Bridging therapy with unfractionated heparin (UFH) or low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH)
is recommended for patients with AF and a mechanical heart valve undergoing procedures that
require interruption of warfarin. Decisions regarding bridging therapy should balance the risks of
stroke and bleeding. (Level of Evidence: C)
10. For patients with AF without mechanical heart valves who require interruption of warfarin or
newer anticoagulants for procedures, decisions about bridging therapy (LMWH or UFH) should
balance the risks of stroke and bleeding and the duration of time a patient will not be
anticoagulated. (Level of Evidence: C)
11. Renal function should be evaluated prior to initiation of direct thrombin or factor Xa inhibitors
and should be re-evaluated when clinically indicated and at least annually (176-178). (Level of
Evidence: B)
12. For patients with atrial flutter, antithrombotic therapy is recommended according to the same
risk profile used for AF. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIa
1. For patients with nonvalvular AF and a CHA2DS2-VASc score of 0, it is reasonable to omit
antithrombotic therapy (176, 177). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. For patients with nonvalvular AF with a CHA2DS2-VASc score of 2 or greater and who have end-
stage CKD (creatinine clearance [CrCl] <15 mL/min) or are on hemodialysis, it is reasonable to
prescribe warfarin (INR 2.0 to 3.0) for oral anticoagulation (178). (Level of Evidence: B)

Class IIb
1. For patients with nonvalvular AF and a CHA2DS2-VASc score of 1, no antithrombotic therapy or
treatment with an oral anticoagulant or aspirin may be considered. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. For patients with nonvalvular AF and moderate-to-severe CKD with CHA2DS2-VASc scores of 2
or greater, treatment with reduced doses of direct thrombin or factor Xa inhibitors may be
considered (e.g., dabigatran, rivaroxaban, or apixaban), but safety and efficacy have not been
established. (Level of Evidence: C)
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3. In patients with AF undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention,* bare-metal stents may be
considered to minimize the required duration of dual antiplatelet therapy. Anticoagulation may
be interrupted at the time of the procedure to reduce the risk of bleeding at the site of peripheral
arterial puncture. (Level of Evidence: C)
4. Following coronary revascularization (percutaneous or surgical) in patients with AF and a
CHA2DS2-VASc score of 2 or greater, it may be reasonable to use clopidogrel (75 mg once daily)
concurrently with oral anticoagulants but without aspirin (179). (Level of Evidence: B)

Class III: No Benefit
1. The direct thrombin inhibitor, dabigatran, and the factor Xa inhibitor, rivaroxaban, are not
recommended in patients with AF and end-stage CKD or on hemodialysis because of the lack of
evidence from clinical trials regarding the balance of risks and benefits (170-172, 180-182). (Level
of Evidence: C)

Class III: Harm
1. The direct thrombin inhibitor, dabigatran, should not be used in patients with AF and a
mechanical heart valve (183). (Level of Evidence: B)

*See the 2011 percutaneous coronary intervention guideline for type of stent and duration of dual antiplatelet
therapy recommendations (13).

Table 6. Summary of Recommendations for Prevention of Thromboembolism in Patients With AF
Recommendations COR LOE References
Antithrombotic therapy based on shared decision-making, discussion of
risks of stroke and bleeding, and patient s preferences I C N/A
Antithrombotic therapy selection based on risk of thromboembolism I B (160-163)
CHA2DS2-VASc score recommended to assess stroke risk I B (164-166)
Warfarin recommended with mechanical heart valves. Target INR
intensity should be based on the type and location of prosthesis
I B (167-169)
With prior stroke, TIA, or CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2, oral anticoagulants
recommended. Options include:
• Warfarin I A (164-166)
• Dabigatran, rivaroxaban, or apixaban I B (170-172)
With warfarin, determine INR at least weekly during initiation and
monthly when stable I A (173-175)
Direct thrombin or factor Xa inhibitor recommended, if unable to
maintain therapeutic INR I C N/A
Re-evaluate the need for anticoagulation at periodic intervals I C N/A
Bridging therapy with LMWH or UFH recommended with a mechanical
heart valve if warfarin is interrupted. Bridging therapy should balance
risks of stroke and bleeding
I C N/A
Without a mechanical heart valve, bridging therapy decisions should
balance stroke and bleeding risks against the duration of time patient will
not be anticoagulated
I C N/A
Evaluate renal function prior to initiation of direct thrombin or factor Xa
inhibitors, and re-evaluate when clinically indicated and at least annually I B (176-178)
For atrial flutter, antithrombotic therapy is recommended as for AF I C N/A
With nonvalvular AF and CHA2DS2-VASc score of 0, it is reasonable to
omit antithrombotic therapy IIa B (176, 177)
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With CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2 and end-stage CKD (CrCl <15 mL/min)
or on hemodialysis, it is reasonable to prescribe warfarin for oral
anticoagulation
IIa B (178)
With nonvalvular AF and a CHA2DS2-VASc score of 1, no
antithrombotic therapy or treatment with an oral anticoagulant or aspirin
may be considered
IIb C N/A
With moderate-to-severe CKD and CHA2DS2-VASc scores of ≥2,
reduced doses of direct thrombin or factor Xa inhibitors may be
considered
IIb C N/A
For PCI,* BMS may be considered to minimize duration of DAPT IIb C N/A
Following coronary revascularization in patients with CHA2DS2-VASc
score of ≥2, it may be reasonable to use clopidogrel concurrently with oral
anticoagulants, but without aspirin
IIb B (179)
Direct thrombin, dabigatran, and factor Xa inhibitor, rivaroxaban, are not
recommended with AF and end-stage CKD or on hemodialysis because of
the lack of evidence from clinical trials regarding the balance of risks and
benefits
III: No
Benefit C
(170-172,
180-182)
Direct thrombin inhibitor, dabigatran, should not be used with a
mechanical heart valve III: Harm B (183)
*See the 2011 percutaneous coronary intervention guideline for type of stent and duration of dual antiplatelet therapy
recommendations (13).
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; BMS, bare-metal stent; CKD, chronic kidney disease; COR, Class of Recommendation;
CrCl, creatinine clearance; DAPT, dual antiplatelet therapy; INR, international normalized ratio; LOE, Level of Evidence;
LMWH, low-molecular-weight heparin; N/A, not applicable; PCI, percutaneous coronary intervention; TIA, transient
ischemic attack; and UFH, unfractionated heparin.
4.1.1. Selecting an Antithrombotic Regimen Balancing Risks and Benefits
AF, whether paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent, and whether symptomatic or silent, significantly increases
the risk of thromboembolic ischemic stroke (184-187). Nonvalvular AF increases the risk of stroke 5 times and
AF in the setting of mitral stenosis increases the risk of stroke 20 times (188) over patients in sinus rhythm.
Thromboembolism occurring with AF is associated with a greater risk of recurrent stroke, more severe
disability, and mortality (189). Silent AF is also associated with ischemic stroke (184-187). The appropriate use
of antithrombotic therapy, and the control of other risk factors including hypertension, and
hypercholesterolemia, substantially reduces stroke risk.
Antithrombotic agents in routine use for the prevention of thromboembolism in patients with
nonvalvular AF include anticoagulant drugs (UFH and LMWH, warfarin, and direct thrombin and factor Xa
inhibitors) and antiplatelet drugs (aspirin and clopidogrel). While anticoagulants have been effective in reducing
ischemic stroke in multiple randomized controlled trials (RCTs), their use is associated with an increased risk of
bleeding, ranging from minor bleeding to fatal intracranial or extracranial hemorrhage. Platelet inhibitors (alone
or in combination) are less effective than warfarin, better tolerated by some patients, and are associated with a
lower risk of intracerebral hemorrhage. However, they have similar overall rates of major bleeding in some
studies (177, 182, 190-192). Careful consideration is required to balance the benefits and the risks of bleeding in
each individual patient.
4.1.1.1. Risk Stratification Schemes (CHADS2, CHA2DS2-VASc, and HAS-BLED)
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One meta-analysis has stratified ischemic stroke risk among patients with nonvalvular AF using the AF
Investigators (193); the (CHADS2) Congestive heart failure, Hypertension, Age ≥75 years, Diabetes mellitus,
Prior Stroke or TIA or Thromboembolism (doubled) score (194); or the (CHA2DS2-VASc) Congestive heart
failure, Hypertension, Age ≥75 years (doubled), Diabetes mellitus, Prior Stroke or TIA or thromboembolism
(doubled), Vascular disease, Age 65 to74 years, Sex category point score systems (Table 7) (16).

Table 7. Comparison of the CHADS2 and CHA2DS2-VASc Risk Stratification Scores for Subjects With
Nonvalvular AF
Definition and Scores for CHADS2 and CHA2DS2-
VASc
Stroke Risk Stratification With the CHADS2 and
CHA2DS2-VASc scores
Score
Adjusted
stroke rate (%
per y)
CHADS2 acronym CHADS2 acronym*
Congestive HF 1 0 1.9%
Hypertension 1 1 2.8%
Age ≥75 y 1 2 4.0%
Diabetes mellitus 1 3 5.9%
Stroke/TIA/TE 2 4 8.5%
Maximum Score 6 5 12.5%
CHA2DS2-VASc acronym 6 18.2%
Congestive HF 1 CHA2DS2-VASc acronym
Hypertension 1 0 0%
Age ≥75 y 2 1 1.3%
Diabetes mellitus 1 2 2.2%
Stroke/TIA/TE 2 3 3.2%
Vascular disease (prior MI, PAD, or aortic
plaque)
1 4 4.0%
Age 65 74 y 1 5 6.7%
Sex category (i.e., female sex) 1 6 9.8%
Maximum Score 9 7 9.6%
8 6.7%
9 15.20%
*These adjusted-stroke rates are based on data for hospitalized patients with AF and were published in 2001 (194). Because
stroke rates are decreasing, actual stroke rates in contemporary nonhospitalized cohorts might vary from these estimates.
Adjusted-stroke rate scores are based on data from Lip and colleagues (195). Actual rates of stroke in contemporary
cohorts might vary from these estimates.

AF indicates atrial fibrillation; CHADS2, Congestive heart failure, Hypertension, Age ≥75 years, Diabetes mellitus, Prior
Stroke or TIA or Thromboembolism (doubled); CHA2DS2-VASc, Congestive heart failure, Hypertension, Age ≥75 years
(doubled), Diabetes mellitus, Prior Stroke or TIA or thromboembolism (doubled), Vascular disease, Age 65 74 years, Sex
category; HF, heart failure; LV, left ventricular; MI, myocardial infarction; PAD, peripheral artery disease; TE,
thromboembolic; and TIA, transient ischemic attack (195, 196).

The CHADS2 score has been validated in multiple nonvalvular AF cohorts, with findings indicating
approximately a 2.0% increase in stroke rate for each 1-point increase in CHADS2 score (from 1.9% with a score
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of 0 to 18.2% with a score of 6) (194, 197). A limitation of the CHADS2 score is that a CHADS2 score of 1 is
considered an intermediate risk and those at lowest risk may not be well identified. Furthermore, patients
whose only risk factor is a CHADS2 score of 2 due to prior stroke may have a greater risk than a score of 2
would indicate.
Compared to the CHADS2 score, the CHA2DS2-VASc score (16) for nonvalvular AF has a broader score
range (0 to 9) and includes a larger number of risk factors (female sex, 65 to 74 years of age, and vascular
disease) (195, 196). In this scheme, women cannot achieve a CHA2DS2-VASc score of 0. In a nationwide Danish
registry from 1997 to 2008, the CHA2DS2-VASc index better discriminated stroke risk among subjects with a
baseline CHADS2 score of 0 to 1 with an improved predictive ability (165). In another study among patients with
AF, the CHA2DS2-VASc score more clearly defined anticoagulation recommendations than did the CHADS2
score (166). More patients, particularly older women, were redistributed from the low- to high-risk categories. In
a study of Swedish patients with nonvalvular AF, women again had a moderately increased stroke risk
compared with men, however, women younger than 65 years of age and without other AF risk factors had a low
risk for stroke and it was concluded that anticoagulant treatment was not required (198). However, the continued
evolution of AF-related thromboembolic risk evaluation is needed.
Bleeding risk scores to quantify hemorrhage risk include HAS-BLED (Hypertension, Abnormal
renal/liver function, Stroke, Bleeding history or predisposition, Labile INR, Elderly, Drugs/alcohol
concomitantly), RIETE (Computerized Registry of Patients With Venous Thromboembolism),
HEMORR2HAGES (Hepatic or Renal Disease, Ethanol Abuse, Malignancy, Older Age, Reduced Platelet Count
or Function, Rebleeding, Hypertension, Anemia, Genetic Factors, Excessive Fall Risk and Stroke), and ATRIA
(Anticoagulation and Risk Factors in Atrial Fibrillation) (199-201). Although these scores may be helpful in
defining patients at elevated bleeding risk, their clinical utility is insufficient for use as evidence for the
recommendations in this guideline. The RIETE score was developed from a large venous thromboembolism
cohort and includes 2 points for recent bleeding, 1.5 points for abnormal creatinine levels or anemia, and 1 point
for each of the following: >75 years of age, cancer, or pulmonary embolism at baseline. HEMORR2HAGES
includes the following variables: hepatic or renal disease, ethanol abuse, malignancy, older age, reduced platelet
count or function, rebleeding, hypertension, anemia, genetic factors, excessive fall risk, and stroke. The ATRIA
score assigns points to the following variables: anemia, 3; severe renal disease, 3; >75 years of age, 2; prior
hemorrhage, 1; and hypertension, 1.
HAS-BLED (15, 31) is a score based on the presence of hypertension (systolic blood pressure >160 mm
Hg), abnormal liver or renal function, history of stroke or bleeding, labile INRs, elderly age (age >65 years), use
of drugs that promote bleeding, or excess alcohol (202). A score of ≥3 indicates potentially high risk for
bleeding and may require closer observation of a patient for adverse risks, closer monitoring of INRs, or
differential dose selections of oral anticoagulants or aspirin. HAS-BLED better discriminates risk than the
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HEMORR2HAGES or ATRIA scoring systems but all 3 scores had C-indexes <0.70 in their receiver operating
curves, indicating only modest performance and poor predictive accuracy (203).

4.2. Antithrombotic Options
Antithrombotic medications prevent strokes and systemic emboli among patients with AF in part by reducing
the formation of platelet-rich or thrombotic clots in the LA or LAA, from which they can embolize through the
systemic circulation to the brain or other sites. Stroke prevention trials (Figure 3) compared warfarin or aspirin
with placebo, and aspirin with warfarin or clopidogrel and aspirin. Warfarin was also compared with dual
antiplatelet agents (clopidogrel and aspirin). Trials have also compared direct thrombin inhibitors and factor Xa
inhibitors with warfarin and, in 1 case, with aspirin. Both primary and secondary stroke prevention have been
evaluated. The selection of an antithrombotic agent should be based on shared decision-making that takes into
account risk factors, cost, tolerability, patient preference, potential for drug interactions, and other clinical
characteristics, including time in INR therapeutic range if the patient has been on warfarin, irrespective of
whether the AF pattern is paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent.
Meta-analyses have summarized the effect of antithrombotic therapies for stroke prevention in
nonvalvular AF. The largest meta-analysis identified 29 RCTs from 1996 to 2007 that tested antithrombotic
therapies of >12 weeks duration among 28,044 patients (177). Nine trials were double-blind designs with a
mean follow-up of 1.5 years per patient. The average age of the subjects was 71 years and 35% were women.
Among 12 of the trials, there were nearly 3,003 subjects randomized to placebo or control with an average
stroke rate of 4.1% per year among the primary prevention studies and 13% per year among those with prior
stroke or TIA.
4.2.1. Antiplatelet Agents
No studies, with the exception of the SPAF (Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation)-1 trial, show benefit for
aspirin alone in preventing stroke among patients with AF (176, 177, 204). Antiplatelet therapy was compared
to placebo or no treatment in 8 trials with a total of 4,876 subjects (177) (Figure 3). Seven of these 8 trials
compared different doses of aspirin ranging from 25 mg twice a day to 1,300 mg once a day (177). For primary
prevention, aspirin was associated with a 19% reduction (95% CI: -1% to 35%) in stroke incidence with an
absolute risk reduction of 0.8% per year (number needed to treat: 125). The 95% CI encompassed 0, which
includes the possibility that aspirin has no real effect on stroke reduction. For secondary prevention among those
with TIA or strokes, aspirin was associated with an absolute risk reduction of 2.5% per year and a corresponding
number needed to treat of 40. It is important to recognize that the 19% reduction in stroke incidence observed in
this meta-analysis was driven by positive results from only 1 of these RCTs the SPAF-1 trial. In this trial,
aspirin was prescribed at 325 mg once daily and the impact of aspirin was very heterogeneous between groups.
Aspirin was ineffective in preventing strokes in those >75 years of age and did not prevent severe strokes.
Moreover, aspirin has not been studied in a low-risk AF population.
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Clopidogrel plus aspirin was evaluated for stroke prevention in the ACTIVE (Atrial Fibrillation
Clopidogrel Trial With Irbesartan for Prevention of Vascular Events)-W trial (191). This trial was terminated
early (before planned follow-up was completed) on the recommendation of the Data Safety and Monitoring
Board because the combination of antiplatelet agents, clopidogrel (75 mg once daily) plus aspirin (75 mg to 100
mg once daily), proved inferior to warfarin (target INR 2.0 to 3.0) in patients with a mean CHADS2 score of 2.
ACTIVE-W found a 40% RR reduction (95% CI: 18% to 56%; p<0.001) for stroke with warfarin compared
with the dual antiplatelet regimen. ACTIVE-A compared clopidogrel combined with aspirin versus aspirin alone
in patients with AF who were unsuitable for oral anticoagulation and who had ≥1 additional stroke risk factor
(192). The combination of clopidogrel and aspirin resulted in a 28% RR reduction (95% CI: 17% to 38%;
p<0.0002) in all strokes compared with aspirin alone. Major bleeding was significantly greater with the
combination and was increased by 57% (95% CI: 29% to 92%; p<0.001). The absolute differences between the
treatment arms were small, with major vascular events decreased by 0.8% per year and major hemorrhages
increased by 0.7% per year. The results of ACTIVE-W and ACTIVE-A demonstrate that adjusted-dose warfarin
for stroke prevention is significantly better than clopidogrel plus aspirin, and clopidogrel plus aspirin is superior
to aspirin alone. The latter benefits are dampened by the significant increase in major bleeding events. No direct
comparisons have been made between clopidogrel and aspirin and the new oral anticoagulants that have lower
bleeding risks than warfarin. However, there is a direct comparison between aspirin and the factor Xa inhibitor
apixaban in the AVERROES (Apixaban Versus Acetylsalicylic Acid to Prevent Strokes) study, a double-blind
study of 5,599 patients deemed unsuitable for warfarin therapy (182). Subjects were randomized to apixaban 5
mg twice daily (2.5 mg twice daily for those who had 2 of the following 3: age ≥80 years, weight ≤60 kg, serum
creatinine ≥1.5 mg/dL) or to aspirin 81 mg or 325 mg once daily. The primary outcome of the study was the
occurrence of any stroke or systemic embolism. After a mean follow-up of 1.1 years, the study was prematurely
terminated owing to the superiority of apixaban over aspirin for preventing the primary outcome. Major
bleeding risk between the 2 treatments was similar.

Figure 3. Antithrombotic Therapy to Prevent Stroke in Patients who Have Nonvalvular AF (Meta-Analysis)

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ACTIVE-W indicates Atrial Fibrillation Clopidogrel Trial With Irbesartan for Prevention of Vascular Events-W; AF, Atrial
Fibrillation; AFASAK, Atrial Fibrillation, Aspirin and Anticoagulant Therapy Study; BAATAF, Boston Area
Anticoagulation Trial for Atrial Fibrillation; CAFA, Canadian Atrial Fibrillation Anticoagulation; CI, confidence interval;
EAFT, European Atrial Fibrillation Trial; ESPS, European Stroke Prevention Study; JAST, Japan AF Stroke Prevention
Trial; LASAF, Low-Dose Aspirin, Stroke, Atrial Fibrillation; NASPEAF, National Study for Prevention of Embolism in
Atrial Fibrillation; PATAF, Primary Prevention of Arterial Thromboembolism in Nonrheumatic Atrial Fibrillation; SAFT,
Swedish Atrial Fibrillation Trial; SIFA, Studio Italiano Fibrillazione Atriale; SPAF I, Stroke Prevention in Atrial
Fibrillation Study; SPINAF, Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation; and UK-TIA, United Kingdom-Transient Ischemic
Attack.
Adapted with permission from Hart et al. (177).

4.2.2. Oral Anticoagulants
See Online Data Supplement 3 for additional data and evidence tables on warfarin versus aspirin and the new
oral anticoagulants (http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
4.2.2.1. Warfarin
Warfarin is a vitamin K antagonist in use since the 1950s as an oral anticoagulant for stroke prevention in
patients with AF. Its multiple sites of action in the coagulation cascade are shown in Figure 4. Among 6 RCTs
of 2,900 subjects in which adjusted-dose warfarin was compared with placebo or no treatment, the mean INR
ranged from 2.0 to 2.9 (177, 205). Adjusted-dose warfarin resulted in a 64% RR reduction (95% CI: 49% to



























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74%) for ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke compared with the placebo. The absolute risk reduction was 2.7%
per year which yielded a number needed to treat of 37 for 1 year to prevent 1 stroke and 12 for patients with
prior stroke or TIA (177).

Figure 4. Coagulation Cascade

AT indicates antithrombin and VKAs, vitamin K antagonists.
Adapted with permission from Nutescu et al. (206).

A Cochrane Collaboration review of warfarin versus placebo among subjects without prior cerebral
events found that warfarin was associated with a significant risk reduction in all strokes, ischemic stroke, and
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the combined endpoint of stroke, MI, or vascular death (207). With an ischemic stroke rate of 4% per year in the
control group, the absolute reduction was about 2.6% per year for those with no prior stroke or TIA, or about 25
ischemic strokes prevented in 1 year per 1,000 subjects treated with warfarin. The RR reductions were
consistent across the trials. Intracranial hemorrhage was not significantly increased among the subjects
randomized to warfarin, but the patient numbers were small and the CI wide.
For nonvalvular AF, 2 separate Cochrane reviews evaluated the efficacy and safety of oral
anticoagulants compared to antiplatelet agents (208, 209). One review included those with no history of stroke
or TIA and the other those with a history of stroke or TIA. Among 9,598 subjects with AF, the majority (90%)
of whom had no prior stroke or TIA, oral anticoagulants were associated with a significant reduction in all
strokes and ischemic strokes compared with antiplatelet agents. Assuming an absolute stroke risk of 4% per year
with antiplatelet agents, approximately 19 strokes could be prevented per year for every 1,000 patients with AF
treated with oral anticoagulants. The risk of intracranial hemorrhage was significantly increased among those
treated with oral anticoagulants, but major extracranial hemorrhages were not significantly different. After
excluding the ACTIVE-W trial, which used clopidogrel and aspirin as the antiplatelet agent comparison, oral
anticoagulants were significantly associated with an increased risk of bleeding (OR: 1.90; 95% CI: 1.07 to 3.39)
(208). Similarly, among patients with a prior history of stroke or TIA, oral anticoagulants compared with
antiplatelet agents were associated with significant reductions in all major vascular events and recurrent stroke.
Bleeding risks including for any intracranial bleeds and major extracranial bleeds were increased with oral
anticoagulants.
The BAFTA (Birmingham Atrial Fibrillation Treatment of the Aged) study also evaluated the efficacy
of warfarin among higher-risk elderly subjects >75 years of age (190). BAFTA was designed to compare
warfarin with aspirin for the prevention of fatal and nonfatal stroke, intracranial hemorrhage, and other clinically
significant arterial embolism in a primary care population of patients ≥75 years of age who had AF. Warfarin
was superior in preventing stroke or systemic embolism without a significant increase in bleeding risk. The
annual risk of extracranial hemorrhage was 1.4% in the warfarin group and 1.6% in the aspirin group.
Despite strong evidence for the efficacy of warfarin, several limitations have led to its underutilization
(210-214). The narrow therapeutic window and increased risk of bleeding, including in the brain, have hindered
broader use, especially among the elderly. Interactions with other drugs, effects of alterations in diet, and the
requirement for close monitoring with frequent blood tests have also made the dosing of warfarin challenging
for clinicians and patients. Even in well-conducted clinical trials, the time in therapeutic range (TTR) of those
taking warfarin were reported as 55% to 66% (170-172), whereas in some community settings, TTR has been
reported as approximately 50% (215, 216). Despite underutilization of warfarin among eligible persons due to a
variety of factors (210-214), a meta-analysis of contemporary studies found risk of stroke or systemic embolism
estimated to be at 1.66% per year for warfarin in patients with AF (217) (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Pooled Estimates of Stroke or Systemic Embolism in Patients With AF Treated With Warfarin
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ACTIVE W indicates Atrial Fibrillation Clopidogrel Trial With Irbesartan for Prevention of Vascular Events-W; Amadeus,
Evaluating the Use of SR34006 Compared to Warfarin or Acenocoumarol in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation;
ARISTOTLE, Apixaban Versus Warfarin in Patients With AF; BAFTA, Birmingham Atrial Fibrillation Treatment of the
Aged Study; CI, confidence interval; RE-LY, Randomized Evaluation of Long-Term Anticoagulation Therapy; ROCKET
AF, Rivaroxaban Versus Warfarin in Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation; and SPORTIF, Stroke Prevention Using Oral
Thrombin Inhibitor in Atrial Fibrillation.
Adapted with permission from Agarwal et al. (217).

See Online Data Supplements 4 and 5 for additional data on warfarin and antiplatelet therapy
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
4.2.2.2. Newer Oral Anticoagulants
Dabigatran was the first new oral anticoagulant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for
prevention of stroke in patients with AF and is a direct thrombin inhibitor. Its site of action in the coagulation
cascade is shown in Figure 4. Dabigatran was compared with warfarin in the RE-LY (Randomized Evaluation of
Long-Term Anticoagulation Therapy) trial, which was an open-label randomized comparison of dabigatran (110
mg or 150 mg twice daily in a blinded fashion) with adjusted-dose warfarin in 18,113 patients over a median
follow-up period of 2 years (170). The mean CHADS2 score was 2.1 and the primary outcome was stroke (of
any type) and systemic embolism, with any major hemorrhage being the primary safety outcome. Half of the
patients were na ve to oral anticoagulants. The mean TTR for those randomized to warfarin was 64%. The
primary outcome was assessed first for noninferiority followed by superiority. For the primary outcomes,
dabigatran 150 mg twice daily was superior to warfarin, and dabigatran 110 mg twice daily was noninferior to
warfarin. Compared with warfarin, the risk of hemorrhagic strokes was also significantly lower (74% lower)
with both the 110 mg and 150 mg doses. Major bleeding was significantly decreased with the 110 mg dose but
not with the 150 mg dose. Both doses had lower rates of intracranial bleeding and life-threatening bleeding,

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whereas gastrointestinal bleeding was higher in the 150 mg dose (1.6% versus 1.0% per year) group. Dyspepsia
was more frequent for both doses. For secondary prevention of stroke, the results were similar to the primary
analysis but statistically weaker because of smaller sample size (218).
Dabigatran is renally excreted and patients with CrCl <30 mL/min were excluded from the RE-LY trial.
CKD is associated with increased bleeding risk during both dabigatran therapy and warfarin therapy (219). The
FDA approved the higher dose of 150 mg twice daily but not the lower dose of 110 mg twice daily. The FDA
also approved a dose of 75 mg twice daily for those with low CrCl (15 mL/min to 30 mL/min) based on
pharmacological modeling, but that dose was never clinically studied.
The RE-LY trial included subjects distributed equally across stroke risk strata (CHADS2 score 0 to 1 in
31% of subjects, 2 in 33%, and >2 in 32%). For the primary efficacy endpoint and intracranial bleeding, there
was similar efficacy across the range of CHADS2 scores (170). In patients <75 years of age, both doses of
dabigatran were associated with less intracranial and extracranial bleeding than warfarin; in patients ≥75 years
of age, both doses reduced intracranial bleeding. However, extracranial bleeding was similar or more frequent
compared to warfarin (220). Higher CHADS2 scores were associated with increased risks for stroke or systemic
embolism, bleeding, and death in patients with AF receiving oral anticoagulants (221). The benefits of
dabigatran compared with warfarin in terms of efficacy and safety were similar in patient groups with
paroxysmal, persistent, and permanent AF (162). A FDA postmarket analysis of gastrointestinal and intracranial
bleeding of dabigatran versus warfarin indicates that bleeding rates do not appear to be higher for dabigatran
(222).
A post hoc analysis of 1,989 electrical cardioversions found a very low rate of stroke within 30 days
after the procedure (0.6% for warfarin, 0.3% for dabigatran 150 mg twice daily, and 0.8% for dabigatran 110 mg
twice daily) (223). Most subjects were treated with their assigned medication for ≥3 weeks before cardioversion.
TEE was performed in 25% of subjects. There was no significant difference in the incidence of LAA thrombus
(1.1% for warfarin and for dabigatran 1.2% for 150 mg twice daily and 1.8% for 110 mg twice daily) (223).
In the RE-LY trial, there appeared to be an imbalance of MIs; 0.8%, 0.8%, and 0.6% per year for
patients randomized to dabigatran 150 mg twice daily, or 110 mg twice daily and warfarin, respectively
(p=0.09) (72). Absolute events were low in a population in which 31% of randomized patients had objective
evidence of CAD. A meta-analysis of a RCT of dabigatran found a statistically significant increase in risk of MI
and acute coronary syndromes (ACSs) in patients randomized to dabigatran (224). Interpretation of these results
should be made with caution given the multiple limitations of this type of analysis, which includes the use of
different controls and different patient populations.
Rivaroxaban is the second new oral anticoagulant approved by the FDA and is a direct factor Xa
inhibitor (Figure 4). It can be administered as a single daily dose with a large meal to ensure adequate
absorption. It is predominantly excreted by the kidneys. The evidence leading to approval was based on the
ROCKET AF (Rivaroxaban Versus Warfarin in Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation) trial, which was an RCT
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comparing rivaroxaban (20 mg once daily, 15 mg once daily if CrCl was 30 mL/min to 49 mL/min) with
warfarin among 14,264 patients (171). ROCKET AF differed from RE-LY in that it selected higher-risk patients
with AF (≥2 risk factors for stroke compared with 1 risk factor). Patients in ROCKET AF were older and had a
greater mean CHADS2 score of 3.47. Similar to other AF trials, the primary outcome was any stroke or systemic
embolism and the primary hypothesis was noninferiority. Although the primary analysis was prespecified as a
per protocol analysis, the intention-to-treat analysis was also presented. The main safety outcome was clinically
relevant bleeding events. This was a double-blind trial and the patients receiving warfarin had a lower mean
TTR of 55%. The trial demonstrated noninferiority for rivaroxaban compared with warfarin; however, in the
intention-to-treat analysis, superiority was not achieved (p=0.12). Major bleeding was similar for rivaroxaban
and warfarin, but less fatal bleeding and less intracranial hemorrhage, were found for rivaroxaban. At the end of
the trial, patients transitioning to open-label therapy had more strokes with rivaroxaban than with warfarin.
However, the risk of stroke or noncentral nervous system embolism after elective temporary discontinuation of
rivaroxaban compared with warfarin in the ROCKET AF trial did not differ significantly in a post hoc analysis
(225). The risk of stroke was similar for patients assigned to rivaroxaban and warfarin. In ROCKET AF, a
decline in renal function was an independent predictor of stroke risk.
Apixaban is the third new oral anticoagulant approved by the FDA and is another direct factor Xa
inhibitor (Figure 4). It is predominantly eliminated hepatically and is highly protein bound. It has been
investigated in 2 clinical trials. In the ARISTOTLE (Apixaban Versus Warfarin in Patients With Atrial
Fibrillation) trial, apixaban (5 mg twice daily) was compared with warfarin in a double-blind RCT of 18,201
patients with AF and a mean CHADS2 score of 2.1 (172). Apixaban 2.5 mg twice daily was used among patients
with ≥2 of the following conditions: ≥80 years of age, weight ≤60 kg, or a serum creatinine level ≥1.5 mg/dL.
As with the other newer anticoagulant trials, the primary outcome was any stroke or systemic embolism and the
primary safety outcome was major bleeding. Patients were followed for a mean of 1.8 years and the mean age
was 70 years. For warfarin-treated patients, the TTR was 62%. Apixaban was significantly better than warfarin,
with fewer overall strokes (both ischemic and hemorrhagic), systemic emboli, and major bleeding events.
Patients treated with apixaban had significantly fewer intracranial bleeds, but gastrointestinal bleeding
complications were similar between the 2 study groups. Patients treated with apixaban had fewer deaths than
those on warfarin. In ARISTOTLE, apixaban s benefit was independent of type of AF, risk profile, CHADS2 or
CHA2DS2-VASc score, and whether there was a prior stroke.
Apixaban was also compared with aspirin in the AVERROES study, a double-blind study of 5,599
patients deemed unsuitable for warfarin therapy (182) (Section 4.2). The mean CHADS2 score was 2 and 36%
of the subjects had a CHADS2 score of 0 to 1. After a mean follow-up of 1.1 years, the study was prematurely
terminated owing to the superiority of apixaban compared with aspirin for preventing the occurrence of any
stroke or systemic embolism, whereas bleeding risk between the 2 treatments was similar.
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Patients with severe and end-stage CKD (serum creatinine >2.5 mg/dL or CrCl <25 mL/min) were
excluded from the ARISTOTLE and AVERROES trials (172, 182). Based on new pharmacokinetic profiles in a
limited data set (226), apixaban prescribing recommendations were revised for use in patients with end-stage
CKD maintained on stable hemodialysis with the recommended dose of 5 mg twice daily with a reduction in
dose to 2.5 mg twice daily for either ≥80 years of age or body weight ≤60 kg. For patients with end-stage CKD
not on dialysis a dose recommendation was not provided. There are no published data for the use of apixaban in
these clinical settings.
Other factor Xa inhibitors, including edoxaban (227) and betrixaban (228), are in evaluation but not yet
approved by the FDA.
4.2.2.3. Considerations in Selecting Anticoagulants
Selection of agents for antithrombotic therapy depends on a large number of variables, including clinical factors,
clinician and patient preference, and, in some circumstances, cost. The newer agents are currently considerably
more expensive than warfarin. However, dietary limitations and the need for repeated INR testing are eliminated
with the newer agents. If patients are stable, easily controlled, and satisfied with warfarin therapy, it is not
necessary to change to 1 of the newer agents. However, it is important to discuss this option with patients who
are candidates for the newer agents.
All 3 new oral anticoagulants represent important advances over warfarin because they have more
predictable pharmacological profiles, fewer drug drug interactions, an absence of major dietary effects, and less
risk of intracranial bleeding than warfarin. They have rapid onset and offset of action such that bridging with
parenteral anticoagulant therapy is not needed during initiation, and bridging may not be needed in patients on
chronic therapy requiring brief interruption of anticoagulation for invasive procedures. However, strict
compliance with these new oral anticoagulants is critical. Missing even 1 dose could result in a period without
protection from thromboembolism. As a result, the FDA issued black box warnings regarding discontinuation of
these newer agents that can increase the risk of thromboembolism, and coverage with another anticoagulant may
be needed. In addition, reversal agents, while under development, are not presently available, although the short
half-lives lessen the need for an antidote. Although dose adjustments may be warranted for those with CKD or
body weight extremes, these new agents do not require regular INR or activated partial thromboplastin time
monitoring.
Importantly, patients with mechanical heart valves or hemodynamically significant mitral stenosis were
excluded from all 3 major trials (RE-LY, ROCKET AF, and ARISTOTLE) (80, 85, 86); therefore, these patients
should be managed with warfarin. Patients with aortic stenosis or aortic insufficiency who, in the estimation of
the local RCT principal investigator, would not need a surgical procedure before the conclusion of the trial were
included. The RE-ALIGN (Randomized, Phase II Study to Evaluate the Safety and Pharmacokinetics of Oral
Dabigatran Etexilate in Patients After Heart Valve Replacement) trial, a phase 2 dose-ranging study of the use of
dabigatran compared with warfarin in patients with mechanical heart valves, was stopped because dabigatran
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users were more likely to experience strokes, MI, and thrombus forming on the mechanical heart valves than
were warfarin users (183, 229, 230). There was also more bleeding after valve surgery in the dabigatran users
than in the warfarin users, thus dabigatran is contraindicated for use in patients with mechanical heart valves.
Similar drug safety and efficacy information is lacking for rivaroxaban and apixaban and mechanical heart
valves. Bioprosthetic heart valves have not been studied with any of the newer anticoagulants. None of the 3
major trials included pregnant or lactating women, children, patients with reversible causes of AF, or patients
with severe hypertension (systolic blood pressure >180 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure >100 mm Hg).
Patients with a recent stroke (within 7 to 14 days), patients with significant liver disease, and complex patients
with multiple chronic conditions were excluded from all trials.
For patients with CKD, dose modifications of the new agents are available (Table 8); however, for those
with severe or end-stage CKD, warfarin remains the anticoagulant of choice, as there are no or very limited data
for these patients. Among patients on hemodialysis, warfarin has been used with acceptable risks of hemorrhage
(178).

Table 8. Dose Selection of Oral Anticoagulant Options for Patients with Nonvalvular AF
and CKD (Based on Prescribing Information for the United States)*

Renal Function Warfarin (231) Dabigatran (170) Rivaroxaban (171) Apixaban (172)
Normal/Mild
Impairment
Dose adjusted for INR
2.0 3.0
150 mg BID
(CrCl >30 mL/min)
20 mg HS
(CrCl >50 mL/min)
5.0 or 2.5 mg BID

Moderate
Impairment
Dose adjusted for INR
2.0 3.0
150 mg BID or 75 mg
BID§
(CrCl >30 mL/min)
15 mg HS
(CrCl 30 50 mL/min)
5.0 or 2.5 mg BID

Severe Impairment Dose adjusted for INR
2.0 3.0 ║
75 mg BID§
(CrCl 15 30 mL/min)
15 mg HS
(CrCl 15 30 mL/min)
No recommendation,
See section 4.2.2.2.¶
End-Stage CKD Not
on Dialysis
Dose adjusted for INR
2.0 3.0 ║
Not recommended¶
(CrCl <15 mL/min)
Not recommended¶
(CrCl <15 mL/min)
No recommendation,
See section 4.2.2.2.¶
End-Stage CKD on
Dialysis
Dose adjusted for INR
2.0 3.0 ║
Not recommended¶
(CrCl <15 mL/min)
Not recommended¶
(CrCl <15 mL/min)
No recommendation,
See section 4.2.2.2.¶#
*Renal function should be evaluated prior to initiation of direct thrombin or factor Xa inhibitors and should be re-
evaluated when clinically indicated and at least annually. CrCl should be measured using the Crockoft-Gault method.
The concomitant use of P-glycoprotein inducers or inhibitors with dabigatran, or the concomitant use of dual P-
glycoprotein and strong CYP3A4 inducers or inhibitors with either rivaroxaban or apixaban, particularly in the setting of
CKD, may require dosing adjustment or avoidance of concomitant drug use (see the FDA drug label at
http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/202155s002lbl.pdf; Section 8.6).
Use apixaban 2.5 mg BID if any 2 patient characteristics present: Cr ≥ 1.5 mg/dL, ≥80 years of age, body weight ≤60 kg
(172). Apixaban is not recommended in patients with severe hepatic impairment.
§Modeling studies suggest that dabigatran 75 mg BID might be safe for patients with CrCl 15 30mL/min, but this has not
been validated in a prospective cohort. Some countries outside the United States use 110 mg BID (170).
║Dose-adjusted warfarin has been used, but observational data regarding safety and efficacy are conflicting.
¶No published studies support a dose for this level of renal function.
#In patients with end-stage CKD on stable hemodialysis, prescribing information indicates the use of apixaban 5 mg BID
with dose reduction to 2.5 mg BID if the patient is either ≥80 years of age or body weight ≤60 kg.

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AF indicates atrial fibrillation; BID, twice daily; CKD, chronic kidney disease; Cr, creatinine; CrCl, creatinine clearance;
HS, once daily in evening with food; and INR, international normalized ratio.

The price of an effective anticoagulant is the risk of bleeding, which, if extracranial, is usually not life-
threatening. Although INR and activated partial thromboplastin time increase with dabigatran, this is not in a
linear fashion and cannot be used to monitor the level of anticoagulation. The Hemoclot thrombin clotting time
is a more accurate measure of anticoagulation levels, but the test is not approved in the United States nor is it
widely available elsewhere (90). If bleeding or overdose occurs, the anticoagulant agent should be discontinued.
The use of activated charcoal to reduce absorption may be considered. Dabigatran is dialyzable, but both
apixaban and rivaroxaban are not dialyzable and are highly plasma protein bound.
Dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban are substrates for the efflux transporter P-glycoprotein. P-
glycoprotein inhibitors, such as ketoconazole, verapamil, amiodarone, dronedarone, quinidine, and
clarithromycin, may increase plasma concentrations. In addition, P-glycoprotein inducers (such as phenytoin,
carbamazepine, rifampin, and St. John s wort) can decrease levels of these drugs to subtherapeutic blood levels
and coadministration should be avoided. Absorbed dabigatran etexilate is pumped back into the intestinal
tract; therefore, proton pump inhibitors may reduce absorption of dabigatran (232). Rivaroxaban and apixaban
are contraindicated with drugs that inhibit cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4), such as azole antimycotics,
ritonavir, and clarithromycin.
Although the newer oral anticoagulant trials were similar in design and inclusion/exclusion criteria, it is
difficult to make comparisons between the agents to judge differential efficacy in the absence of direct
comparisons.
4.2.2.4. Silent AF and Stroke
Clinically unrecognized and asymptomatic AF is a potentially important cause of stroke, supporting efforts for
early detection of AF in at-risk individuals. Episodes of asymptomatic AF are potentially detectable from
implantable arrhythmia management devices (pacemakers or defibrillators) that have an atrial lead and can be
programmed to record the number, duration, and frequency of atrial rates that exceed a certain threshold and, in
some cases, also provide stored electrograms for analysis. These devices typically report atrial high-rate
events. Whether the high-rate event is AF, atrial flutter, or an atrial tachycardia is not necessarily discernible.
Patients receiving arrhythmia management devices often have risk factors for AF. Atrial high-rate episodes have
been observed in 10% to 28% of patients who have no prior history of AF (62, 184).
The ASSERT (Asymptomatic Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke Evaluation in Pacemaker Patients and the
Atrial Fibrillation Reduction Atrial Pacing Trial) trial enrolled 2,580 patients ≥65 years of age with hypertension
and no history of AF in whom a pacemaker or defibrillator was recently implanted. During the first 3 months,
atrial high-rate episodes >190 bpm for >6 minutes occurred in 10% of subjects (62). These high-rate episodes
were associated with a >5-fold increase in subsequent diagnosis of atrial arrhythmia on ECG and a 1.60% per
year rate of stroke or systemic embolism compared to 0.69% per year rate for those without high-rate episodes
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during the first 3 months. In a subgroup analysis of the MOST (Mode Selection Trial in Sinus Node
Dysfunction) trial, patients with atrial high-rate episodes (rate >220 bpm for >10 beats detected by a pacemaker)
were more than 2 times as likely to die or have a stroke and 6 times as likely to be subsequently diagnosed with
AF as similar patients without atrial high-rate events (186). In a prospective study of 2,486 patients receiving
arrhythmia management devices and who had ≥1 AF risk factor for stroke 20% of whom had a history of
AF patients with atrial tachycardia/AF burden (defined as the longest total atrial tachycardia/AF duration on
any given day during the prior 30-day period) >5.5 hours had a thromboembolism rate of 2.4% per year as
compared to 1.1% per year for those with no or less atrial tachycardia/AF burden (187). In a study of 560
patients with HF, the recording of atrial high-rate events lasting >3.8 hours in 1 day was associated with a 9-fold
increased thromboembolic event rate (233).
Additional studies are needed to further clarify the relationship between stroke risk and atrial high-rate
episodes detected by implanted devices and to define key characteristics of atrial high-rate episodes in patients
who warrant further investigation or potentially therapy (185, 187).
4.3. Interruption and Bridging Anticoagulation
Interruption of anticoagulation is often considered for patients with AF who have episodes of bleeding or require
surgical or interventional procedures associated with a bleeding risk. There is sparse evidence on which to base
specific recommendations on the use of bridging of oral anticoagulants among patients with nonvalvular AF
with adjusted-dose heparin or LMWH (234); however, additional studies (e.g., BRIDGE [Bridging
Anticoagulation in Patients who Require Temporary Interruption of Warfarin Therapy for an Elective Invasive
Procedure or Surgery]) are on-going (235). The duration of interruption and timing of resumption of
anticoagulation after the procedure is guided by individualized consideration of the risk of thrombotic events
and the severity of the operative and perioperative bleeding risk. For patients who are treated with warfarin and
who are at low risk of thromboemboli, or are back in normal sinus rhythm and are undergoing surgical or
diagnostic procedures that carry a risk of bleeding, stopping warfarin for up to 1 week and allowing the INR to
normalize without substituting UFH is a recognized approach. Warfarin is then resumed after adequate
hemostasis has been achieved. For patients at higher risk of thromboembolism (mechanical valves, prior stroke,
CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2), bridging with UFH or LMWH is a common practice, although data for LMWH are
limited (23). An increasingly common approach, especially for pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-
defibrillator implantation, catheter ablation, coronary angiography, and other vascular interventions, is to
perform the procedure without interrupting warfarin (234, 236-240). Radiofrequency catheter ablation of AF
performed with a therapeutic INR does not increase bleeding risk and reduces the risk of emboli (236, 237).
Pacemaker or defibrillator implantation with a therapeutic INR has a lower risk of postoperative bleeding than
discontinuing warfarin and initiating bridging anticoagulation with UFH or LMWH, and may be considered in
those patients requiring device implantation who also have a moderate-to-high thromboembolic risk (234, 238-
243).
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For oral factor Xa inhibitors and direct thrombin inhibitors, there is limited experience with drug
withdrawal prior to surgical procedures (237). In the ROCKET AF trial, rivaroxaban was held for 2 days prior to
elective surgery or invasive procedure and for 24 hours prior to semiurgent procedures (61). The increased risk
of bleeding should be weighed carefully against the urgency of surgery or an invasive procedure. Interruption of
anticoagulation should be guided by the pharmacologic properties of the drug. The timing of resumption should
take into account the fact that anticoagulation, in contrast to warfarin, is achieved promptly, and that reversal
agents are not yet available for these agents, which complicates management if bleeding occurs. For elective
surgery, holding these agents for 1 day (2 doses for dabigatran and apixaban; 1 dose for rivaroxaban) prior to the
procedure is generally sufficient for patients with normal renal function (232). The need for complete
hemostasis (e.g., for spinal puncture, spinal/epidural catheter, or major surgery) will demand a longer period of
discontinuation of ≥48 hours for patients with normal renal function. An activated partial thromboplastin time
for dabigatran and prothrombin time for apixaban and rivaroxaban may provide useful information; a level close
to control suggests a low serum concentration of these agents. For patients undergoing catheter ablation, or any
procedure in which perforation of the heart chamber is possible, these new agents need to be used with caution
because of the lack of approved antidotes in the event of cardiac tamponade. In some cases, activated
prothrombin complex concentrate and recombinant factor VIIa have been used to reverse the anticoagulant
effects of these new agents. Specific reversing agents are not currently available but are under development.
Whether hemostasis will be easier and safer for coronary interventions done by a radial artery approach rather
than a femoral approach is not known. The use of bare-metal stents or coronary artery bypass surgery in
preference to drug-eluting stents where concomitant long-term use of dual antiplatelet agents is anticipated and
might increase bleeding risk is a reasonable consideration when long-term therapy with these anticoagulants is
desired.
In patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention, dual antiplatelet therapy with aspirin and
clopidogrel is indicated to prevent stent thrombosis. The combination of oral anticoagulants and antiplatelet
therapy ( triple therapy ) is associated with a high annual risk of fatal and nonfatal bleeding episodes (244-247).
Recently, in patients taking oral anticoagulants undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention, the efficacy and
safety of antiplatelet therapy with aspirin and clopidogrel versus clopidogrel alone were studied (179). The use
of clopidogrel without aspirin was associated with a reduction in bleeding and no increase in the rate of
thrombotic events.
4.4. Nonpharmacologic Stroke Prevention
4.4.1. Percutaneous Approaches to Occlude the LAA
The LAA is the primary source for thromboembolism in AF (248). Exclusion of the LAA, both surgically and
with devices, has been attempted with the goal of reducing thromboembolism in patients with AF. There are 2
general approaches to occlude the LAA using percutaneous approaches. The first strategy involves implantable
devices that are inserted percutaneously into the LAA with the goal of occluding or plugging the LAA. Devices
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for LAA occlusion include the WATCHMAN Device and the Amplatzer Cardiac Plug. The WATCHMAN
Device is deployed percutaneously via transeptal puncture and has a polyethylene membrane that covers a self-
expanding nitinol cage with barbs to anchor the device in the LAA (249). The early WATCHMAN Device
findings suggest noninferiority to warfarin for the composite endpoint of stroke, systemic embolism, and
cardiovascular death; however, early adverse events occur in approximately 10% of patients including
pericardial bleeding. Longer-term follow-up of the WATCHMAN Device at 1,588 patient years suggests
noninferiority of this device to warfarin (249). A subsequent registry study demonstrated that the WATCHMAN
Device achieved noninferiority to patients who could not receive warfarin (250). Lastly, data from subsequent
experience with the WATCHMAN Device suggest that the earlier device-related complications were mitigated
with increasing operator experience (251).
The Amplatzer Cardiac Plug, which has ConformitØ EuropØenne Mark approval, consists of a small
proximal disc, a central polyester patch, and a larger distal disc with hooks to anchor the device in the LAA. It
does not require anticoagulation and a European-based trial found a 96% success rate for
deployment/implantation but with a 7% incidence of serious complications (252). The second strategy is to tie
off the LAA using an epicardial snare, referred to as the LARIAT device. This device received FDA approval in
2009 for facilitation of suture placement and knot tying for use in surgical applications in which soft tissues are
being approximated (4-7). It has been adapted for use in AF and combines a percutaneous epicardial and
endocardial approach. The initial experience with this device appeared promising, with 97% acute obliteration
of the LAA as confirmed by TEE and a favorable safety profile (253). The LARIAT device s long-term
outcomes, requiring RCTs to study reduced stroke risk and safety, are not yet defined. The device requires
subxiphoid pericardial access that may not be achievable in the presence of pericardial adhesions, it can provoke
pericarditis that can be severe, and it is not suitable for all LAA anatomies. It is not yet clear if occluding the
LAA with the LARIAT device lowers stroke risk. Additional devices are in development.
4.4.2. Cardiac Surgery LAA Occlusion/Excision: Recommendation

Class IIb
1. Surgical excision of the LAA may be considered in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. (Level of
Evidence: C)

Surgical-based procedures to exclude the LAA during cardiac surgery are controversial for several reasons.
What should seem technically simple and reproducible removal of the LAA yields inconsistent results and
the anatomy of the LAA is quite variable (254). The circumflex coronary artery lies proximate to the base of the
LAA and epicardial and endocardial-based surgical techniques to occlude the LAA are often inadequate because
of surgeon concern regarding damage to the circumflex artery during a suture-based closure of the appendage.
Epicardial techniques include simple suture ligation, oversewing the base without excision, excising the
appendage and oversewing the base, and surgical stapling and excision (255). One device, the Gillinov-
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Cosgrove clip LAA excluder system, has FDA approval (256). Endocardial techniques include inversion of the
appendage, amputation, and then oversewing the base from the endocardial aspect (255).
The results of surgical occlusion of the LAA remain suboptimal, with echocardiographic follow-up
suggesting incomplete occlusion in ≥50% of subjects. In the largest study to examine the success of LAA
ligation, 2,546 patients undergoing TEE between 1993 and 2004 were retrospectively examined (257); 137
patients underwent a surgical attempt at LAA occlusion. Of these 137 patients, 52 underwent excision and 85
underwent exclusion (either suture or stapled). TEE-defined unsuccessful closures were defined by either
persistent flow into the LAA, a remnant stump of >1.0 cm of the LAA, or color Doppler flow into the LAA.
Overall, 50 of 137 closures were successful (40%). Success varied with the technique employed: excision (73%
success rate), suture exclusion (23% success rate), and stapling (0% success rates). Particularly noteworthy is
that thrombus was identified in ≥25% of patients with unsuccessful LAA occlusion with suture exclusion or
stapled LAA remnants. This latter finding constitutes important data guiding the continued need for
anticoagulation in patients who have undergone surgical LAA ligation.
Success of LAA occlusion and efficacy with stroke prevention remains unclear regarding whether the
appendage should be occluded at the time of concomitant heart surgery. The LAAOS (Left Atrial Appendage
Occlusion Study) randomized 77 patients with risk factors for stroke to LAA closure or control at the time of
coronary artery bypass surgery (258). During this trial, suture-based or stapler-based occlusion was permitted
and the success of LAA closure in the suture group was 45% versus 72% in the stapled group. Nine appendage
tears occurred during the trial (1 control and 8 treatments), but these tears did not contribute to mortality or
morbidity. There were 2 thromboembolic events in the occlusion group and none in the control. The authors
concluded that LAA occlusion could be performed safely; however, larger randomized studies are needed to
determine whether LAA occlusion could reduce stroke risk in patients with risk factors for AF who undergo
non AF-related cardiac surgery. In a retrospective cohort of 205 patients with echocardiography following
mitral valve replacement, 58 patients underwent LAA ligation as judged by transthoracic echocardiogram. Of
these 58 patients, 52 had a complete ligation of the LAA, as defined by lack of color Doppler flow from the
body of the LA into the appendage, and 6 had persistent flow. The principal finding was that a lack of or an
incomplete LAA occlusion were both strongly associated with the occurrence of a thromboembolic event (259).
In summary, the current data regarding LA occlusion at the time of concomitant cardiac surgery reveals
a lack of clear consensus because of the inconsistency of techniques used for surgical excision, the highly
variable rates of successful LAA occlusion, and the unknown impact LAA occlusion may or may not have upon
future thromboembolic events.
5. Rate Control: Recommendations
See Table 9 for a summary of recommendations for this section.

Class I
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1. Control of the ventricular rate using a beta blocker or nondihydropyridine calcium channel
antagonist is recommended for patients with paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent AF (260-262).
(Level of Evidence: B)
2. Intravenous administration of a beta blocker or nondihydropyridine calcium channel blocker is
recommended to slow the ventricular heart rate in the acute setting in patients without pre-
excitation. In hemodynamically unstable patients, electrical cardioversion is indicated (263-266).
(Level of Evidence: B)
3. In patients who experience AF-related symptoms during activity, the adequacy of heart rate
control should be assessed during exertion, adjusting pharmacological treatment as necessary to
keep the ventricular rate within the physiological range. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIa
1. A heart rate control (resting heart rate <80 bpm) strategy is reasonable for symptomatic
management of AF (262, 267). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. Intravenous amiodarone can be useful for rate control in critically ill patients without pre-
excitation (268-270). (Level of Evidence: B)
3. AV nodal ablation with permanent ventricular pacing is reasonable to control the heart rate when
pharmacological therapy is inadequate and rhythm control is not achievable (271-273). (Level of
Evidence: B)

Class IIb
1. A lenient rate-control strategy (resting heart rate <110 bpm) may be reasonable as long as
patients remain asymptomatic and LV systolic function is preserved (267). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. Oral amiodarone may be useful for ventricular rate control when other measures are unsuccessful
or contraindicated. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class III: Harm
1. AV nodal ablation with permanent ventricular pacing should not be performed to improve rate
control without prior attempts to achieve rate control with medications. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. Nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists should not be used in patients with
decompensated HF as these may lead to further hemodynamic compromise. (Level of Evidence: C)
3. In patients with pre-excitation and AF, digoxin, nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists,
or intravenous amiodarone should not be administered as they may increase the ventricular
response and may result in ventricular fibrillation (274). (Level of Evidence: B)
4. Dronedarone should not be used to control the ventricular rate in patients with permanent AF as
it increases the risk of the combined endpoint of stroke, MI, systemic embolism, or cardiovascular
death (275, 276). (Level of Evidence: B)

Table 9. Summary of Recommendations for Rate Control
Recommendations COR LOE References
Control ventricular rate using a beta blocker or nondihydropyridine
calcium channel antagonist for paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent AF I B (260-262)
IV beta blockers or nondihydropyridine calcium channel blocker
recommended to slow ventricular heart rate in the acute setting in patients
without pre-excitation. In hemodynamically unstable patients, electrical
cardioversion is indicated
I B (263-266)
For AF, assess heart rate control during exertion, adjusting
pharmacological treatment as necessary I C N/A
A heart rate control (resting heart rate <80 bpm) strategy is reasonable for
symptomatic management of AF IIa B (262, 267)
IV amiodarone can be useful for rate control in critically ill patients
without pre-excitation IIa B (268-270)
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AV nodal ablation with permanent ventricular pacing is reasonable when
pharmacological management is inadequate and rhythm control is not
achievable
IIa B (271-273)
Lenient rate control strategy (resting heart rate <110 bpm) may be
reasonable with asymptomatic patients and LV systolic function is
preserved
IIb B (267)
Oral amiodarone may be useful for ventricular rate control when other
measures are unsuccessful or contraindicated IIb C N/A
AV nodal ablation should not be performed without prior attempts to
achieve rate control with medications III: Harm C N/A
Nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists should not be used in
decompensated HF III: Harm C N/A
With pre-excitation and AF, digoxin, nondihydropyridine calcium channel
antagonists, or amiodarone, should not be administered III: Harm B (274)
Dronedarone should not be used to control ventricular rate with permanent
AF III: Harm B (275, 276)
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; COR, Class of Recommendation; HF, heart failure; IV, intravenous;
LOE, Level of Evidence; LV, left ventricular; and N/A, not applicable.

Rate control in AF is an important strategy. It impacts quality of life, reduces morbidity, and decreases
the potential for developing tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy. Multiple agents, including beta blockers,
nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, digoxin, and certain antiarrhythmic drugs, including amiodarone
and sotalol, have been evaluated with regard to efficacy in attaining rate control and. This information is
summarized in Table 10. When considering which agent(s) to use, clinicians must consider the patient s degree
of symptoms, hemodynamic status, presence or absence of HF, and potential precipitants of AF. When
evaluating the evidence supporting different agents, clinicians must recognize that most clinical trials were
performed in the 1980s and 1990s and have study design limitations that include variable endpoints, small
sample sizes, and single-site study and observational trial designs. Issues to consider include the acuity of
attaining rate control, which agent(s) to administer, and the degree of rate control required. Over the last 40
years, several themes have emerged. In general, beta blockers are the most common agents utilized for rate
control, followed by nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, digoxin, and amiodarone. Patient
comorbidities must be understood in order to avoid medications that may precipitate adverse events such as
decompensation of HF, exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or acceleration of conduction in
patients with pre-excitation.
When rapid control of ventricular rate during AF is required, intravenous medications or electrical
cardioversion may be used. Electrical cardioversion is preferred in patients with decompensated HF, ongoing
myocardial ischemia, or hypotension, although this may carry an increased thromboembolic risk in patients
inadequately anticoagulated or for whom AF is of uncertain duration. In hemodynamically stable patients with a
rapid ventricular response, oral medications may be administered.

Table 10. AF Rate Control Common Medication Dosage
Intravenous Administration Usual Oral Maintenance Dose
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Beta blockers
Metoprolol
tartrate
2.5 5.0 mg IV bolus over 2 min; up to 3 doses 25 100 mg BID
Metoprolol XL
(succinate)
N/A 50 400 mg QD
Atenolol N/A 25 100 mg QD
Esmolol 500 mcg/kg IV bolus over 1 min, then 50 300
mcg/kg/min IV
N/A
Propranolol 1 mg IV over 1 min, up to 3 doses at 2 min intervals 10 40 mg TID or QID
Nadolol N/A 10 240 mg QD
Carvedilol N/A 3.125 25 mg BID
Bisoprolol N/A 2.5 10 mg QD
Nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists
Verapamil (0.075-0.15 mg/kg) IV bolus over 2 min, may give an
additional 10.0 mg after 30 min if no response, then 0.005
mg/kg/min infusion
180 480 mg QD (ER)
Diltiazem 0.25 mg/kg IV bolus over 2 min, then 5-15 mg/h 120 360 mg QD (ER)
Digitalis glycosides
Digoxin 0.25 mg IV with repeat dosing to a maximum of 1.5 mg
over 24 h
0.125 0.25 mg QD
Others
Amiodarone 300 mg IV over 1 h, then 10 50 mg/h over 24 h 100 200 mg QD
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; BID, twice daily; ER, extended release; IV, intravenous; N/A, not applicable; QD, once
daily; QID, four times a day; and TID, three times a day.
5.1. Specific Pharmacological Agents for Rate Control
5.1.1. Beta Adrenergic Receptor Blockers
By blocking sympathetic tone, beta blockers are useful for ventricular rate control in patients with AF. Beta
blockers, including esmolol, propranolol, and metoprolol, are effective when administered intravenously in the
setting of acute AF (263, 266, 277). Orally administered beta blockers including atenolol, metoprolol, nadolol,
propranolol, and sotalol have all been effectively utilized for ongoing ventricular rate control in patients with
chronic AF. There is less published literature on rate control of AF with additional beta blockers. In the
AFFIRM (Atrial Fibrillation Follow-Up Investigation of Rhythm Management) study, beta blockers were the
most effective and commonly used drug class for rate control (70% on beta blocker versus 54% on calcium
channel blocker) (262). In patients with HF, carvedilol had efficacy for heart rate control and, in combination
with digoxin, resulted in improved LV function (278). Combination therapy of beta blockers with other agents,
including digoxin, is effective in ventricular rate control; however, drugs should be titrated to avoid excessive
bradycardia (260).
See Online Data Supplement 6 for additional data on beta blockers
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
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5.1.2. Nondihydropyridine Calcium Channel Blockers
Diltiazem and verapamil have direct AV nodal effects, blocking L-type calcium channels, and are used for
ventricular rate control in both acute and chronic AF. In the setting of acute AF, intravenous administration of
diltiazem was safe and effective in controlling ventricular response in 83% of patients (264). Intravenous
verapamil is also effective in establishing acute ventricular rate control (266, 279, 280). Unless immediate rate
control is required or an enteral route of administration is not available, oral administration is appropriate. Both
verapamil and diltiazem reduce resting and exercise heart rate and can improve exercise tolerance (281). These
nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers should not be used in patients with LV systolic dysfunction and
decompensated HF owing to their negative inotropic effects, but they may be used in patients with HF with
preserved LV systolic function. In addition, these agents should not be used in patients with pre-excitation and
AF due to the potential for shortening bypass tract refractoriness which may accelerate the ventricular rate to
precipitate hypotension or ventricular fibrillation (274, 282) (Section 7.8).

See Online Data Supplement 7 for additional data on nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
5.1.3. Digoxin
Digoxin is not usually first-line therapy for ventricular rate control in patients with AF, despite its common use.
Although intravenous digoxin does slow the ventricular response, onset of action requires >1 hour and the effect
does not peak until approximately 6 hours after initial administration. Therefore, it is not an optimal agent when
rapid rate control is desired (283). During chronic oral therapy, digoxin reduces the resting heart rate but it is
ineffective at controlling the ventricular response during exercise (260). Digoxin may be combined with beta
blockers or nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers to improve ventricular rate control during exercise
(260, 284, 285), and it has been used in HF as 1 of the few rate control agents that does not have negative
inotropic effects. Adverse effects of digoxin include AV block, ventricular arrhythmias, and infrequently
aggravation of sinus node dysfunction. Dose adjustment is required in patients with renal dysfunction, the
elderly, and in the presence of drugs that reduce its excretion such as amiodarone, propafenone, or
nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers. Therefore, periodic assessment of serum levels is warranted in
many patients. Studies finding an association between digoxin therapy and mortality raise further concern about
its use, particularly long term (286, 287). In the AFFIRM trial, digoxin was associated with an increase in
mortality, which in post hoc analysis was irrespective of sex or HF (288). Arrhythmias, which are dose related,
are a potential source of mortality; in the DIG (Digitalis Investigation Group) trial, serum levels >0.9 ng/mL
were associated with increased mortality (289). However, in another AFFIRM subgroup propensity-matched
analysis with paroxysmal and persistent AF there was no increase in mortality or hospitalization in those taking
digoxin as baseline initial therapy (290). Because it can shorten cardiac action potential duration, digoxin should
not be employed as sole therapy in patients with pre-excitation.
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See Online Data Supplement 8 for additional data on digoxin
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
5.1.4. Other Pharmacological Agents for Rate Control
Amiodarone exerts sympatholytic and calcium antagonistic properties that can depress AV nodal conduction.
Although intravenous amiodarone can be used in critically ill patients without pre-excitation to attain ventricular
rate control, it is less effective than nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers (265, 291) and requires a
longer time to achieve rate control (7 hours versus 3 hours for diltiazem). There are limited data on the efficacy
of chronic oral therapy with amiodarone for rate control during persistent AF, but in 1 small trial it had similar
efficacy to digoxin (292). Amiodarone is uniquely lipid soluble. Its onset of action can be accelerated by a high-
dose amiodarone-loading regimen, but there is the potential for worsening hemodynamics in patients with recent
decompensated HF or hypotension. Intravenous amiodarone does not have the same electrophysiologic effects
as oral amiodarone (293), and intravenous amiodarone has the potential to accelerate the ventricular response
and precipitate fatal arrhythmias in patients with AF and pre-excitation (294, 295). Amiodarone has many
potential toxicities and drug interactions that limit its long-term use for control of ventricular rate.
Dronedarone, which lacks iodine moieties of amiodarone, slows the resting rate in AF by an average of
12 bpm and also improves the exercise heart rate control (296); however, it should not be used for rate control in
permanent AF as it was found to increase rates of HF, stroke, cardiovascular death, and unplanned
hospitalization (275). Furthermore, dronedarone should not be used for ventricular rate control in patients with
HF and LV systolic dysfunction as it increases the likelihood of the combined endpoint of stroke, MI, systemic
embolism, or cardiovascular death (275, 276).

See Online Data Supplement 9 for additional data on pharmacological agents for rate control
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
5.2. AV Nodal Ablation
AV nodal ablation with permanent pacemaker implantation effectively controls and regularizes ventricular heart
rate and, in selected patients, improves symptoms. Patients most likely to benefit include those with tachycardia-
induced cardiomyopathy with ventricular rate control refractory to medical therapy (273, 297-300). AV nodal
ablation is usually reserved for elderly patients as it leads to pacemaker dependency. Patients with symptoms
refractory to medical therapy who are treated with AV nodal ablation and permanent pacemaker implantation
have an improvement in cardiac symptoms, quality of life, and health care utilization. With this approach, no
rate control medications are necessary, but anticoagulation to prevent thromboembolism is required based on the
patient s stroke risk as assessed by the CHA2DS2-VASc system. When this approach is under consideration, the
patient must receive counseling to understand that this is an irreversible measure that results in a lifelong
pacemaker dependency with its potential complications. Time-permitting, pacemaker implantation may be
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performed 4 to 6 weeks prior to the AV node ablation to ensure proper pacemaker function as malfunction due
to lead dislodgement can be catastrophic. Sudden death secondary to torsades de pointes or ventricular
fibrillation has been reported after AV junction ablation. This outcome is possibly related to increased
dispersion of ventricular refractoriness produced by sudden heart rate slowing and ventricular pacing (301).
Postablation, the ventricular pacing rate is usually set between 90 bpm and 100 bpm and then gradually tapered
over several months (302, 303, 303). RV apical pacing also creates a ventricular activation sequence that can
lead to depressed ventricular function. In patients with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) <35% and
symptoms of HF, implantation of a biventricular pacing system is recommended. This procedure should also be
considered for patients with less severe ventricular dysfunction (17). In the BLOCK HF (Biventricular Versus
Right Ventricular Pacing in Heart Failure Patients With Atrioventricular Block) trial, patients with advanced AV
block with LVEF <50% had improved clinical outcomes when treated with a biventricular pacemaker as
compared with RV apical pacing (304). Upgrading to a biventricular pacing system should be considered for
patients who have undergone AV nodal ablation coupled with a RV pacing system who develop moderate-to-
severe LV systolic dysfunction (305).

See Online Data Supplement 10 for additional data on AV junction ablation
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
5.3. Selecting and Applying a Rate Control Strategy
5.3.1. Broad Considerations in Rate Control
The optimal heart rate targets for rate control are controversial. The target used in the AFFIRM trial was a
resting heart rate of either ≤80 bpm or averaging ≤100 bpm on ambulatory monitoring, without a rate >100% of
the maximum age-adjusted predicted exercise heart rate. These conditions were achieved in 58% of patients
during initial drug therapy (262). One RCT, the RACE (Rate Control Efficacy in Permanent Atrial Fibrillation)-
II trial assessed lenient versus strict rate control (267). In this trial, 614 patients with permanent AF were
randomized to a lenient rate control (resting heart rate <110 bpm) strategy or a strict rate control (resting heart
rate <80 bpm) strategy. At 3 years the primary composite endpoint of cardiovascular death, hospitalization for
HF, stroke, embolism, bleeding, or life-threatening arrhythmic events was similar between the 2 groups (12.9%
lenient rate control versus 14.9% strict rate control); thus, a strict rate control strategy did not improve
outcomes. Several considerations warrant a cautious approach to extrapolating these findings to the general AF
population. The majority of patients in the RACE-II trial had preserved LV systolic function. RACE-II was a
single noninferiority trial with a 90% CI for a composite endpoint. The resting heart rate achieved in both
groups only differed by 10 bpm and 78% of patients in the lenient control group had resting rates <100 bpm.
This single RCT does not provide sufficient evidence to assess definitive results of the impact on all-cause
mortality, HF symptoms, hospitalizations, or quality of life. The degree of rate control, however, remains an
area of uncertainty and controversy that requires further study.
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See Online Data Supplement 11 for additional data on rate control
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
5.3.2. Individual Patient Considerations
Optimal ventricular rate control may differ and is impacted by the degree of patient symptoms and comorbidities
including the presence of valvular heart disease, LV systolic dysfunction, HF, and presence of pre-excitation.
Figure 6 provides a brief outline of the approach(es) to rate control in different patient populations.

Figure 6. Approach to Selecting Drug Therapy for Ventricular Rate Control*

*Drugs are listed alphabetically.
Beta blockers should be instituted following stabilization of patients with decompensated HF. The choice of beta blocker
(cardio-selective, etc.) depends on the patient s clinical condition.
Digoxin is not usually first-line therapy. It may be combined with a beta blocker and/or a nondihydropyridine calcium
channel blocker when ventricular rate control is insufficient and may be useful in patients with HF.
§In part because of concern over its side-effect profile, use of amiodarone for chronic control of ventricular rate should be
reserved for patients who do not respond to or are intolerant of beta blockers or nondihydropyridine calcium antagonists.

COPD indicates chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder; CV, cardiovascular; HF, heart failure; HFpEF, heart failure with
preserved ejection fraction; and LV, left ventricular.
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6. Rhythm Control
Long-term AF management may employ attempts to restore and maintain sinus rhythm, commonly referred to
as a rhythm-control strategy ; utilizing a combination of approaches, including cardioversion, antiarrhythmic
drugs and radiofrequency catheter ablation in the setting of appropriate anticoagulation and rate control. RCTs
comparing outcomes of a rhythm-control strategy using antiarrhythmic drugs with a rate-control strategy in
patients with AF failed to show a superiority of rhythm control for either strategy on mortality (262, 306).
Furthermore, when applied in patients who are candidates for both treatment strategies (rhythm or rate control),
a rhythm-control strategy results in more hospitalizations. Therefore, the routine use of a rhythm-control
strategy is not warranted for some patients. Catheter ablation has not been studied in this context.
Although an initial rate-control strategy is reasonable for many patients, several considerations favor
pursuing a rhythm-control strategy. Successful sinus rhythm maintenance is associated with improvements in
symptoms and quality of life for some patients (307, 308). Persistent symptoms associated with AF remain the
most compelling indication for a rhythm-control strategy. Other factors that may favor attempts at rhythm
control include difficulty in achieving adequate rate control, younger patient age, tachycardia-mediated
cardiomyopathy, first episode of AF, AF that is precipitated by an acute illness, and patient preference. AF
progresses from paroxysmal to persistent in many patients and subsequently results in electrical and structural
remodeling that becomes irreversible with time (122, 309). For this reason, accepting AF as permanent in a
patient may render future rhythm-control therapies less effective. This may be more relevant for a younger
individual who wishes to remain a candidate for future developments in rhythm-control therapies. Early
intervention with a rhythm-control strategy to prevent the progression of AF may be beneficial (310-312).
6.1. Electrical and Pharmacological Cardioversion of AF and Atrial Flutter
See Table 11 for a summary of recommendations from this section.
6.1.1. Thromboembolism Prevention: Recommendations

Class I
1. For patients with AF or atrial flutter of 48-hour duration or longer, or when the duration of AF is
unknown, anticoagulation with warfarin (INR 2.0 to 3.0) is recommended for at least 3 weeks
prior to and 4 weeks after cardioversion, regardless of the CHA2DS2-VASc score and the method
(electrical or pharmacological) used to restore sinus rhythm (313-316). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. For patients with AF or atrial flutter of more than 48 hours or unknown duration that requires
immediate cardioversion for hemodynamic instability, anticoagulation should be initiated as soon
as possible and continued for at least 4 weeks after cardioversion unless contraindicated. (Level of
Evidence: C)
3. For patients with AF or atrial flutter of less than 48-hour duration and with high risk of stroke,
intravenous heparin or LMWH, or administration of a factor Xa or direct thrombin inhibitor, is
recommended as soon as possible before or immediately after cardioversion, followed by long-
term anticoagulation therapy. (Level of Evidence: C)
4. Following cardioversion for AF of any duration, the decision regarding long-term anticoagulation
therapy should be based on the thromboembolic risk profile (Section 4). (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIa
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1. For patients with AF or atrial flutter of 48-hour duration or longer or of unknown duration who
have not been anticoagulated for the preceding 3 weeks, it is reasonable to perform a TEE prior to
cardioversion and proceed with cardioversion if no LA thrombus is identified, including in the
LAA, provided that anticoagulation is achieved before TEE and maintained after cardioversion
for at least 4 weeks (157). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. For patients with AF or atrial flutter of 48-hour duration or longer, or when the duration of AF is
unknown, anticoagulation with dabigatran, rivaroxaban, or apixaban is reasonable for at least 3
weeks prior to and 4 weeks after cardioversion (223, 317, 318). (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIb
1. For patients with AF or atrial flutter of less than 48-hour duration who are at low
thromboembolic risk, anticoagulation (intravenous heparin, LMWH, or a new oral anticoagulant)
or no antithrombotic therapy may be considered for cardioversion, without the need for
postcardioversion oral anticoagulation (319). (Level of Evidence: C)
6.1.2. Direct-Current Cardioversion: Recommendations

Class I
1. In pursuing a rhythm-control strategy, cardioversion is recommended for patients with AF or
atrial flutter as a method to restore sinus rhythm. If cardioversion is unsuccessful, repeated
direct-current cardioversion attempts may be made after adjusting the location of the electrodes
or applying pressure over the electrodes, or following administration of an antiarrhythmic
medication (320). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. Cardioversion is recommended when a rapid ventricular response to AF or atrial flutter does not
respond promptly to pharmacological therapies and contributes to ongoing myocardial ischemia,
hypotension, or HF. (Level of Evidence: C)
3. Cardioversion is recommended for patients with AF or atrial flutter and pre-excitation when
tachycardia is associated with hemodynamic instability. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIa
1. It is reasonable to perform repeated cardioversions in patients with persistent AF provided that
sinus rhythm can be maintained for a clinically meaningful period between cardioversion
procedures. Severity of AF symptoms and patient preference should be considered when
embarking on a strategy requiring serial cardioversion procedures. (Level of Evidence: C)
6.1.3. Pharmacological Cardioversion: Recommendations

Class I
1. Flecainide, dofetilide, propafenone, and intravenous ibutilide are useful for pharmacological
cardioversion of AF or atrial flutter provided contraindications to the selected drug are absent
(321-326). (Level of Evidence: A)

Class IIa
1. Administration of oral amiodarone is a reasonable option for pharmacological cardioversion of
AF (327, 328). (Level of Evidence: A)
2. Propafenone or flecainide ( pill-in-the-pocket ) in addition to a beta blocker or
nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist is reasonable to terminate AF outside the hospital
once this treatment has been observed to be safe in a monitored setting for selected patients (321).
(Level of Evidence: B)

Class III: Harm
1. Dofetilide therapy should not be initiated out of hospital owing to the risk of excessive QT
prolongation that can cause torsades de pointes (325, 329). (Level of Evidence: B)
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Table 11. Summary of Recommendations for Electrical and Pharmacological Cardioversion of AF and
Atrial Flutter
Recommendations COR LOE References
Thromboembolism prevention
With AF or atrial flutter for ≥48 h, or unknown duration, anticoagulate
with warfarin for at least 3 wk prior to and 4 wk after cardioversion I B (313-316)
With AF or atrial flutter for >48 h or unknown duration requiring
immediate cardioversion, anticoagulate as soon as possible and continue
for at least 4 wk
I C N/A
With AF or atrial flutter <48 h and high stroke risk, IV heparin or LMWH,
or factor Xa or direct thrombin inhibitor, is recommended before or
immediately after cardioversion, followed by long-term anticoagulation
I C N/A
Following cardioversion of AF, long-term anticoagulation should be based
on thromboembolic risk I C N/A
With AF or atrial flutter for ≥48 h or unknown duration and no
anticoagulation for preceding 3 wk, it is reasonable to perform a TEE prior
to cardioversion, and then cardiovert if no LA thrombus is identified,
provided anticoagulation is achieved before TEE and maintained after
cardioversion for at least 4 wk
IIa B (157)
With AF or atrial flutter ≥48 h, or unknown duration, anticoagulation with
dabigatran, rivaroxaban, or apixaban is reasonable for ≥3 wk prior to and 4
wk after cardioversion
IIa C (223, 317,
318)
With AF or atrial flutter <48 h and low thromboembolic risk, IV heparin,
LMWH, a new oral anticoagulant, or no antithrombotic may be considered
for cardioversion
IIb C (319)
Direct-current cardioversion
Cardioversion is recommended for AF or atrial flutter to restore sinus
rhythm. If unsuccessful, repeat cardioversion attempts may be made I B (320)
Cardioversion is recommended for AF or atrial flutter with RVR, that does
not respond to pharmacological therapies I C N/A
Cardioversion is recommended for AF or atrial flutter and pre-excitation
with hemodynamic instability I C N/A
It is reasonable to repeat cardioversions in persistent AF when sinus
rhythm is maintained for a clinically meaningful time period between
procedures
IIa C N/A
Pharmacological cardioversion
Flecainide, dofetilide, propafenone, and IV ibutilide are useful for
cardioversion of AF or atrial flutter provided contraindications to the
selected drug are absent
I A (321-326)
Amiodarone is reasonable for pharmacological cardioversion of AF IIa A (327, 328)
Propafenone or flecainide ( pill-in-the-pocket ) to terminate AF out of
hospital is reasonable once observed to be safe in a monitored setting IIa B (321)
Dofetilide should not be initiated out of hospital III: Harm B (325, 329)
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; COR, Class of Recommendation; IV, intravenous; LA, left atrial; LOE, Level of Evidence;
LMWH, low-molecular-weight heparin; N/A, not applicable; RVR, rapid ventricular response; and TEE, transesophageal
echocardiogram.

Direct-current cardioversion involves the delivery of an electrical shock synchronized with the QRS complex to
avoid inducing ventricular fibrillation as can occur by a shock applied during ventricular repolarization on the T
wave. It is clinically relevant to differentiate between a cardioversion in which sinus rhythm was not restored,
even transiently, and a cardioversion in which sinus rhythm was restored but AF recurs. In the former scenario,
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approaches that improve energy delivery and may allow for successful cardioversion include increasing shock
strength, delivering a biphasic rather than monophasic waveform, changing the shock vector by altering the
electrode pad position, improving energy transfer via pressure on the anterior electrode pad, or using a drug such
as ibutilide to lower defibrillation threshold. In the latter scenario, when sinus rhythm is restored but AF returns,
pretreatment with selected antiarrhythmic drugs may increase the likelihood of maintenance of sinus rhythm
(320, 330).
A number of technical factors influence cardioversion efficacy, including energy, waveform, and
electrode placement (8). A biphasic waveform is more effective than a monophasic waveform (331). Antero-
posterior electrode placement is superior to anterolateral placement in some but not all studies (8, 332). If an
attempt at cardioversion using 1 electrode placement fails, another attempt using the alternative placement is
recommended. The initial use of a higher-energy shock is more effective and may minimize the number of
shocks required as well as the duration of sedation (333). The risks associated with cardioversion include
thromboembolism, sedation-related complications, ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation, bradyarrhythmias,
skin burn or irritation from electrodes, muscle soreness, and reprogramming or altering implanted cardiac device
function. Elective cardioversion should not be performed in patients with evidence of digoxin toxicity, severe
hypokalemia, or other electrolyte imbalances until these factors are corrected.
Appropriate anticoagulation management around the time of a cardioversion is essential for reducing
thromboembolic risk. Results of observational studies suggest that thromboembolic risk after cardioversion is
highest in the first 72 hours and that the majority of events occur within 10 days (334, 335). Thromboembolism
after cardioversion can be due to migration of thrombi present at the time of cardioversion or to the formation
and subsequent migration of de novo thrombi that form while atrial function is still depressed in the
postcardioversion period. This guideline s Class I recommendation for anticoagulation with warfarin for ≥3
weeks prior to and continuing for ≥4 weeks after cardioversion is based on pathophysiological and observational
data (315, 316). For new oral anticoagulants, available data supporting similar use at cardioversion consist of
subgroup analyses of dabigatran from RE-LY, rivaroxaban from ROCKET AF, and apixaban from
ARISTOTLE in patients who were receiving long-term anticoagulation (>3 weeks) around the time of
cardioversion (223, 317, 318).
TEE guidance is an alternative to 3 weeks of anticoagulation prior to cardioversion (157, 336).
Therapeutic anticoagulation is achieved, followed by a TEE; if no thrombus is seen (including in the LAA),
cardioversion is performed and anticoagulation is continued for a ≥4 weeks. The absence of left atrial thrombus
on TEE does not preclude the need for anticoagulation during and after cardioversion. In the ACUTE
(Assessment of Cardioversion Using Transesophageal Echocardiography) trial, hospitalized patients were
typically started on intravenous heparin prior to cardioversion whereas outpatients were typically started on
warfarin 5 days before cardioversion and anticoagulation status was verified at the time of cardioversion (157).
Alternative strategies for achieving rapid anticoagulation include administration of LMWH (337) or a new oral
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anticoagulant. If thrombus is identified on TEE, the cardioversion should be postponed followed by ≥3 to 4
weeks of anticoagulation. A repeat TEE to ensure thrombus resolution is an option prior to another
cardioversion attempt (315). If thrombus remains on repeat TEE, an alternative strategy such as rate control in
conjunction with appropriate anticoagulation may be considered.
Data on cardioversion risks for atrial flutter are limited. Atrial flutter can, however, be associated with
thrombi and episodes of AF. Therefore, it is recommended that the anticoagulation management strategy for
cardioversion of atrial flutter be the same as for AF.
In patients with AF clearly of <48 hours duration, it is common practice to perform a cardioversion
without TEE or antecedent anticoagulation (338). No RCTs comparing anticoagulation strategies in patients
with AF duration <48 hours exist (335). If high-risk features are present, such as mitral stenosis or prior history
of thromboembolism, long-term anticoagulation should be considered. Decisions regarding whether to initiate
long-term systemic anticoagulation at the time of cardioversion in a patient with AF of <48 hours should be
based on the patient s long-term risk of stroke using the CHA2DS2-VASc risk score discussed in Section 4.1.
For patients with AF requiring emergency cardioversion because of hemodynamic instability, the
initiation of anticoagulation should not delay interventions to stabilize the patient. No RCTs have evaluated
optimal anticoagulation strategies in this patient population. It is reasonable to administer heparin (intravenous
bolus of UFH followed by infusion, or LMWH) or newer anticoagulant and to continue this after the
cardioversion unless contraindicated. For patients with AF or atrial flutter of ≥48 hours or uncertain duration,
oral anticoagulation is recommended for ≥4 weeks after emergency cardioversion (similar to patients
undergoing elective cardioversion). If warfarin is used, bridging with UFH or LMWH is indicated until the INR
is therapeutic. For patients with AF and thromboembolic risks factors, oral long-term anticoagulation is
recommended.
Antiarrhythmic drugs can be administered for attempted conversion of AF to sinus rhythm or to
facilitate electrical cardioversion. Pharmacological cardioversion is most likely effective when initiated within 7
days after the onset of an episode of AF. The most commonly effective antiarrhythmic drugs are specified in
Table 12. In patients with recent onset AF, intravenous administration of ibutilide restored sinus rhythm in about
50% of patients with an average conversion time of <30 minutes. The rates of successful termination were
higher in those patients with atrial flutter than in those with AF (339). Ibutilide pretreatment also improves the
efficacy of transthoracic electrical cardioversion of AF (320). The major risk is excessive QT prolongation,
which can cause polymorphic ventricular tachycardia/torsades de pointes. The latter occurs in up to 3% to 4% of
patients. ECG monitoring should be continued for ≥4 hours after administration and resuscitation equipment
must be immediately available. Ibutilide should be avoided in patients with QT prolongation, marked
hypokalemia, or a very low ejection fraction (EF) (<30%) because of the risk of ventricular proarrhythmia (320).
Some experts administer magnesium sulfate intravenously prior to administering ibutilide in an attempt to lower
this risk (324). Intravenous amiodarone may facilitate slowing of the ventricular rate in AF, but the effect to
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restore sinus rhythm is often delayed. In 1 study, oral amiodarone loaded over the course of several weeks
resulted in conversion of persistent AF to sinus rhythm in about 25% of patients (307). An oral dose of
flecainide or propafenone can be used as a pill-in-the-pocket strategy to attempt to restore sinus rhythm
shortly after the onset of symptomatic AF (321, 323). Because termination of AF may be associated with
bradycardia owing to sinus node or AV node dysfunction or a proarrhythmic response, an initial conversion trial
in a monitored setting is recommended before this approach is used in the unmonitored outpatient setting. A beta
blocker or nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist should be administered ≥30 minutes before
administering the Vaughan Williams Class IC agent to prevent a rapid ventricular response due to 1:1 AV
conduction during atrial flutter (321).

Table 12. Recommended Drug Doses for Pharmacological Cardioversion of AF
Drug Route of Administration Dosage Potential Adverse Effects References
Amiodarone Oral 600 800 mg daily in divided doses to a
total load of up to 10 g, then 200 mg QD
as maintenance
Phlebitis (IV), hypotension,
bradycardia, QT
prolongation, torsades de
pointes (rare), GI upset,
constipation, increased INR
(327, 328)
IV 150 mg over 10 min, then 1 mg/min for
6 h, then 0.5 mg/min for 18 h or change
to oral dosing
Dofetilide Oral CrCl (mL/min)

Dose (mcg BID) QT prolongation, torsades
de pointes; adjust dose for
renal function, body size,
and age
(325)
>60
40 60
20 40
<20
500
250
125
Not recommended
Flecainide Oral 200 300 mg x 1* Hypotension, atrial flutter
with 1:1 AV conduction,
ventricular proarrhythmia;
avoid in patients with CAD
and significant structural
heart disease
(321)
Ibutilide IV 1 mg over 10 min; may repeat 1 mg once
if necessary (weight <60 kg use 0.01
mg/kg)
QT prolongation, torsades
de pointes, hypotension
(322, 326,
339)
Propafenone Oral 450 600 mg x 1* Hypotension, atrial flutter
with 1:1 AV conduction,
ventricular proarrhythmia;
avoid in patients with CAD
and significant structural
heart disease
(321, 323)
*Recommended given in conjunction with a beta blocker or nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist administered
≥30 minutes before administering the Vaughan Williams Class IC agent (321).

AF indicates atrial fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; BID, twice a day; CAD, coronary artery disease; CrCl, creatinine
clearance; GI, gastrointestinal; INR, international normalized ratio; IV, intravenous; and QD, once daily.
Adapted with permission from Fuster et al. (4-7).

6.2. Pharmacological Agents for Preventing AF and Maintaining Sinus Rhythm
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6.2.1. Antiarrhythmic Drugs to Maintain Sinus Rhythm: Recommendations
Class I
1. Before initiating antiarrhythmic drug therapy, treatment of precipitating or reversible causes of
AF is recommended. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. The following antiarrhythmic drugs are recommended in patients with AF to maintain sinus
rhythm, depending on underlying heart disease and comorbidities (Level of Evidence: A):
a. Amiodarone (307, 340-342)
b. Dofetilide (325, 329)
c. Dronedarone (343-345)
d. Flecainide (340, 346)
e. Propafenone (340, 347-350)
f. Sotalol (340, 348, 351)
3. The risks of the antiarrhythmic drug, including proarrhythmia, should be considered before
initiating therapy with each drug. (Level of Evidence: C)
4. Owing to its potential toxicities, amiodarone should only be used after consideration of risks and
when other agents have failed or are contraindicated. (307, 347, 352-355). (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIa
1. A rhythm-control strategy with pharmacological therapy can be useful in patients with AF for the
treatment of tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIb
1. It may be reasonable to continue current antiarrhythmic drug therapy in the setting of
infrequent, well-tolerated recurrences of AF, when the drug has reduced the frequency or
symptoms of AF. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class III: Harm
1. Antiarrhythmic drugs for rhythm control should not be continued when AF becomes permanent
(Level of Evidence: C) including dronedarone (275). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. Dronedarone should not be used for treatment of AF in patients with New York Heart Association
(NYHA) class III and IV HF or patients who have had an episode of decompensated HF in the
past 4 weeks (276). (Level of Evidence: B)

When a rhythm-control strategy is desired, antiarrhythmic drug therapy may be selected to reduce the frequency
and duration of AF and improve quality of life. Before antiarrhythmic drug treatment is initiated, reversible
precipitants of AF should be identified and corrected. After the first episode of AF that resolves, it is reasonable
to address the underlying causes of AF and need for anticoagulation, and to not initiate antiarrhythmic drug
treatment until warranted by AF recurrences. Decisions regarding anticoagulation should be based on the
patient s individual stroke risk profile and not on the response to antiarrhythmic drug therapy. Antiarrhythmic
drug efficacy is modest and asymptomatic AF recurrences are common. Therefore, a rhythm-control strategy
should not result in cessation of antithrombotic therapy, rate control therapy, or treatment of underlying heart
disease.
Drug selection is guided to a greater extent by safety concerns than by drug efficacy. A common
approach is to identify available drug choices by first eliminating, on the basis of clinical parameters, drugs that
have absolute or relative contraindications. Patients with CAD, significant LV hypertrophy, and HF have more
restricted options than those with no or minimal structural heart disease. Several other important factors must be
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considered, including the risk for bradyarrhythmias, risk factors for excessive QT prolongation and torsades de
pointes (e.g., baseline QT prolongation, history of torsades de pointes during therapy with a QT interval-
prolonging drug, potassium wasting syndromes), and factors that influence drug disposition such as patient age,
and renal or hepatic dysfunction. Because of its toxicity profile, amiodarone should only be used after
consideration of risks and when other agents have failed or are contraindicated.
Table 13 summarizes antiarrhythmic drugs useful in the maintenance of sinus rhythm along with
toxicity profiles. In general, antiarrhythmic drugs have the potential to precipitate or worsen bradycardia due to
sinus node dysfunction or abnormal AV conduction. A history of syncope, sinus bradycardia, PR interval
prolongation, and bundle-branch block raise concerns for a risk of bradyarrhythmia during antiarrhythmic drug
therapy. Depending on the specific agent selected, a pacemaker may be required for patients with significant
bradyarrhythmias.
In selecting a strategy of rhythm control with an antiarrhythmic drug, providing for adequate rate
control in the event of AF recurrence should also be considered. Once antiarrhythmic drug therapy is initiated,
patient symptoms may improve without complete AF suppression. The transition from frequent AF to
infrequent, well-tolerated recurrence of AF is a reasonable outcome and does not necessarily indicate that the
therapy should be discontinued. However, if attempts at rhythm control are abandoned (e.g., after AF has been
declared permanent), the antiarrhythmic drug should be discontinued.
Several systematic reviews have summarized the efficacy and safety of antiarrhythmic drugs for treating
AF (340, 352, 356, 357). In a meta-analysis of 44 trials, antiarrhythmic drug therapy significantly reduced
recurrence of AF (with a number needed to treat ranging from 2 to 9). All drugs may require discontinuation of
therapy owing to adverse effects (number needed to harm ranging from 9 to 27) and all but amiodarone and
propafenone increased proarrhythmia in this analysis (number needed to harm ranging from 17 to 119).
Vaughan Williams Class IA drugs (quinidine and disopyramide, pooled data) were associated with increased
mortality compared with controls, whereas no other antiarrhythmic drug showed a significant effect on mortality
(358). Most of the trials in this meta-analysis had relatively short duration of follow-up and enrolled relatively
healthy patients; therefore it is difficult to extrapolate these data to other patient populations. Conclusions about
other important clinical outcomes such as stroke and HF were not analyzed and dronedarone was not included.
Antiarrhythmic drugs that prolong the QT interval, notably sotalol, dofetilide, and disopyramide (all of
which block the rapidly activating delayed rectifier potassium current IKr) have a risk of causing torsades de
pointes and should be avoided in patients at increased risk of this form of proarrhythmia. Amiodarone and
dronedarone have rarely been associated with prolongation of the QT interval and torsades de pointes (359,
360). General risk factors associated with increased risk of torsades de pointes include bradycardia, advanced
age, hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, female sex, baseline prolonged QT interval, congenital long-QT syndrome,
concomitant use of other QT-prolonging therapies, HF, and possibly LV hypertrophy.
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Structural heart disease has been associated with an increased risk of drug-induced proarrhythmia that
may manifest as life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. Manifestations of heart disease sufficient to warrant
consideration include prior MI, HF, and significant LV hypertrophy. Drugs that have prominent sodium
channel-blocking effects (e.g., flecainide, Vaughan Williams Class IC drug) increase mortality in patients with
MI from CAD (361). This consideration has been inferred for propafenone (Vaughan Williams Class IC agents),
and these drugs should be avoided in patients with MI from CAD.

Table 13. Dosage and Safety Considerations for Maintenance of Sinus Rhythm in AF
Drug Usual Doses Exclude/Use with
Caution
Major Pharmacokinetic Drug
Interactions
Vaughan Williams Class IA
Disopyramide

• Immediate release: 100
200 mg once every 6 h
• Extended release: 200 400
mg once every 12 h
• HF
• Prolonged QT interval
• Prostatism, glaucoma
• Avoid other QT
interval-prolonging
drugs
• Metabolized by CYP3A4:
caution with inhibitors (e.g.,
verapamil, diltiazem,
ketoconazole, macrolide
antibiotics, protease inhibitors,
grapefruit juice) and inducers
(e.g., rifampin, phenobarbital,
phenytoin)
Quinidine • 324 648 mg every 8 h • Prolonged QT interval
• Diarrhea
• Inhibits CYP2D6:
↑concentrations of tricyclic
antidepressants, metoprolol,
antipsychotics; ↓efficacy of
codeine
• Inhibits P-glycoprotein:
↑digoxin concentration
Vaughan Williams Class IC
Flecainide • 50 200 mg once every 12
h
• Sinus or AV node
dysfunction
• HF
• CAD
• Atrial flutter
• Infranodal conduction
disease
• Brugada syndrome
• Renal or liver disease
• Metabolized by CYP2D6
(inhibitors include quinidine,
fluoxetine, tricyclics; also
genetically absent in 7% 10%
of population) and renal
excretion (dual impairment can
↑↑plasma concentration)
Propafenone • Immediate release: 150
300 mg once every 8 h
• Extended release: 225 425
mg once every 12 h
• Sinus or AV node
dysfunction
• HF
• CAD
• Atrial flutter
• Infranodal conduction
disease
• Brugada syndrome
• Liver disease
• Asthma
• Metabolized by CYP2D6
(inhibitors include quinidine,
fluoxetine, tricyclics; also
genetically absent in 7% 10%
of population) poor
metabolizers have ↑beta
blockade
• Inhibits P-glycoprotein:
↑digoxin concentration
• Inhibits CYP2C9: ↑warfarin
concentration (↑INR 25%)
Vaughan Williams Class III
Amiodarone • Oral: 400 600 mg daily in
divided doses for 2-4 wk;
maintenance typically 100-
200 mg QD
• Sinus or AV node
dysfunction
• Infranodal conduction
disease
• Inhibits most CYPs to cause
drug
interaction:↑concentrations of
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• IV: 150 mg over 10 min;
then 1 mg/min for 6 h; then
0.5 mg/min for 18 h or
change to oral dosing; after
24 h, consider decreasing
dose to 0.25 mg/min
• Lung disease
• Prolonged QT interval
warfarin (↑INR 0% 200%),
statins, many other drugs
• Inhibits P-glycoprotein:
↑digoxin concentration
Dofetilide • 125 500 mcg once every
12 h
• Prolonged QT interval
• Renal disease
• Hypokalemia
• Diuretic therapy
• Avoid other QT
interval prolonging
drugs
• Metabolized by CYP3A:
verapamil, HCTZ, cimetidine,
ketoconazole, trimethoprim,
prochlorperazine, and
megestrol are contraindicated;
discontinue amiodarone at least
3 mo before initiation
Dronedarone • 400 mg once every 12 h • Bradycardia
• HF
• Long-standing
persistent AF/flutter
• Liver disease
• Prolonged QT interval
• Metabolized by CYP3A:
caution with inhibitors (e.g.,
verapamil, diltiazem,
ketoconazole, macrolide
antibiotics, protease inhibitors,
grapefruit juice) and inducers
(e.g., rifampin, phenobarbital,
phenytoin)
• Inhibits CYP3A, CYP2D6, P-
glycoprotein: ↑concentrations
of some statins, sirolimus,
tacrolimus, beta blockers,
digoxin
Sotalol • 40 160 mg once every 12
h
• Prolonged QT interval
• Renal disease
• Hypokalemia
• Diuretic therapy
• Avoid other QT
interval prolonging
drugs
• Sinus or AV nodal
dysfunction
• HF
• Asthma
• None (renal excretion)

AF indicates atrial fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; CAD, coronary artery disease; HCTZ, hydrochlorothiazide; HF, Heart
Failure; INR, international normalized ratio; IV, intravenous; and QD, once daily.
Adapted from Brunton et al. (362).
6.2.1.1. Specific Drug Therapy
Amiodarone is an iodinated compound that, along with its metabolites, blocks multiple ion channels (e.g., IKr,
INa, IKur, Ito, ICaL, IKAch, and IKs). It is a noncompetitive beta-adrenergic antagonist. It has a long half-life of weeks
and large volume of distribution into adipose tissue. While suppression of sinus and AV nodal function can
occur early within the first few days of oral therapy, the antiarrhythmic effect and QT prolongation can be
delayed for days or weeks. A loading phase accelerates the onset of its antiarrhythmic activity, and
administration in divided doses and with food minimizes the gastrointestinal symptoms associated with large
doses (≥600 mg) during the loading phase. Administration with food also significantly increases the rate and
extent of amiodarone absorption. Use of oral amiodarone for AF is associated with the added benefit of effective
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rate control, frequently eliminating the need for other drugs to control the ventricular rate for AF recurrences.
Drug interactions and toxicities, however, are sufficient to preclude its routine use as a rate-controlling agent.
Amiodarone is known to inhibit CYP3A, CYP2C9, and P-glycoprotein and, consequently, the
elimination of multiple other medications. In patients also taking warfarin or digoxin, dose reduction in these
drugs may be needed upon amiodarone initiation in anticipation of a rise in INR (that can be variable) and serum
digoxin level. Doses of other medications for rate control should be reduced when the rate slows after initiation
of amiodarone and stopped if the rate slows excessively.
Amiodarone is the most effective available antiarrhythmic drug for maintenance of sinus rhythm in
patients with paroxysmal or persistent AF. In direct comparisons, it is more effective than dronedarone, sotalol,
or propafenone (307, 353, 355, 363). A mixed treatment comparison of amiodarone, dronedarone, flecainide,
propafenone, and sotalol for the treatment of AF or atrial flutter found that amiodarone had the largest reduction
of AF recurrence (OR: 0.22; 95% CI: 0.16 to 0.29) but was associated with the highest rate of patients
experiencing ≥1 serious adverse event (OR: 2.41; 95% CI: 0.96 to 6.06) and treatment withdrawals due to
adverse events (OR: 2.91; 95% CI: 1.66 to 5.11) (352). Trends for increased mortality (OR: 2.17; 95% CI: 0.63
to 7.51) were found, which were stronger when small studies randomizing <100 subjects per group were
excluded from the analysis. Amiodarone therapy was associated with an increase in noncardiac mortality in
patients with NYHA class III HF in SCD-HeFT (Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial) (364).
The major cardiovascular side effect of amiodarone is bradycardia. Marked QT prolongation can occur,
but it is very rarely associated with torsades de pointes (359). Extracardiac toxicities, including thyroid, liver,
pulmonary, and ocular and skin discoloration, are a major problem with amiodarone, so it not a first-choice
agent (especially in younger patients) when other antiarrhythmic drugs are an option. The risk of many
toxicities, including pulmonary toxicity, is dose-related and can be fatal. Chronic oral doses of ≤200 mg daily
may be effective and result in fewer side effects than higher-dose regimens. In patients with left ventricular
hypertrophy, HF, CAD, and/or previous MI, amiodarone is associated with a low risk of proarrhythmia, making
it an appropriate initial choice to prevent recurrent AF in these clinical settings. Appropriate surveillance for
lung, liver, and thyroid toxicity is warranted.
Flecainide and Propafenone are Vaughan Williams Class 1C drugs that may be considered for rhythm
control in patients with AF without structural heart disease. Flecainide, along with other potent sodium channel-
blocking drugs, increased mortality in patients with prior MI and therefore should be avoided in patients with
ischemic heart disease (361) In addition, both drugs are negative inotropes and should be avoided in patients
with LV dysfunction.
These medications can cause slowing of the atrial rate in atrial flutter, resulting in 1:1 AV conduction
and an increased ventricular rate; therefore, concomitant AV nodal blocking medication is recommended. Drug-
induced, use-dependent increases in the PR and QRS durations of up to 25% compared with baseline can also
occur during sinus rhythm. However, a greater increase in the QRS duration may be a marker for proarrhythmia
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risk (365). These agents should be used with caution in the presence of significant conduction system disease,
including intraventricular conduction delay or bundle branch block in the absence of a pacing system.
Noncardiac side effects are uncommon and include dizziness and visual disturbance, and propafenone can cause
a metallic taste. The parent compound has beta-blocker properties and its metabolites are electrophysiologically
active with weak beta-blocking activity. Propafenone is a substrate for CYP2D6, which is genetically absent in
approximately 7% of patients (poor metabolizers) and is inhibited by quinidine, fluoxetine, tricyclic
antidepressants, among others. Thus, drug interactions and genetic susceptibility can cause abnormally increased
plasma concentrations of propafenone, resulting in significant beta blockade.
Sotalol, a IKr inhibitor and beta blocker, is not effective for conversion of AF to sinus rhythm, but it may
be used to prevent recurrent AF. Much like with other antiarrhythmic drugs, with the exception of amiodarone,
the rates of maintaining sinus rhythm at 1 year for sotalol are in the range of 30% to 50% (340). Sotalol is
renally cleared and should be used with caution or avoided in patients with CKD or unstable renal function.
Sotalol causes drug-induced QT interval prolongation, so it should be administered with caution or avoided
when administered with other drugs known to prolong the QT interval. During follow-up, serum potassium and
magnesium levels and renal function should be checked periodically. Trends toward increased mortality for
sotalol (OR: 3.44; 95% CI: 1.02 to 11.59) were observed in a comparison study (352) and it is likely that
proarrhythmia is a contributing mechanism. Some experts initiate sotalol in hospital with electrocardiographic
monitoring to observe for QT prolongation and proarrhythmia in the absence of an implanted cardioverter-
defibrillator.
Dofetilide is a potent and selective inhibitor of IKr that may be considered for rhythm control in patients
who are low risk for torsades de pointes induced by QT interval prolongation. Dofetilide has minimal
noncardiac side effects. In the SAFIRE-D (Symptomatic Atrial Fibrillation Investigative Research on
Dofetilide) trial, dofetilide (500 mcg twice daily) exhibited 58% efficacy in maintaining sinus rhythm at 1 year
after cardioversion, compared with only 25% in the placebo group (325). Torsades de pointes occurred with an
incidence of 0.8%. Dofetilide was discontinued owing to excessive QT prolongation in 5% of patients. In the
DIAMOND (Danish Investigations of Arrhythmia and Mortality on Dofetilide) study of patients with reduced
LV function, sinus rhythm was maintained at 1 year in 79% of the dofetilide group compared with 42% of the
placebo group (329). In the United States, for initiation or dose escalation of therapy, inpatient ECG monitoring
is mandatory, as was the case in clinical trials. Under these circumstances, dofetilide does not increase mortality
in HF and post-MI populations (366). It is renally cleared, dosed according to CrCl, and adjusted or
discontinued depending on degree of QT prolongation. It should not be administered concomitantly with
multiple other drugs that influence dofetilide disposition (Table 13) or can prolong the QT interval.
Dronedarone may be considered for rhythm control in patients who do not have HF. Dronedarone is a
structural analogue of amiodarone but lacks amiodarone s iodine moieties. It is associated with a lower
incidence of adverse events than amiodarone but is also less efficacious (353). Its multiple electrophysiologic
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actions include sympatholytic effects as well as blocking of calcium, sodium, and potassium currents.
Dronedarone reduced the combined endpoint of death and cardiovascular complications (largely by reducing
hospitalizations for AF) in patients with paroxysmal or persistent AF or atrial flutter and risk factors for
thromboembolism (343).
Dronedarone increases mortality in patients with recently decompensated HF and depressed LV
function (276) and is contraindicated in patients with NYHA class III or IV HF and in patients who have had an
episode of decompensated HF in the past 4 weeks, especially if they have depressed LV function. In patients
with permanent AF, dronedarone increases the combined endpoint of stroke, cardiovascular death, and
hospitalization (275). Therefore, dronedarone is contraindicated in patients who are not restored to sinus rhythm.
The major cardiac adverse effects of dronedarone are bradycardia and QT prolongation. Torsades de
pointes is rare but has been reported. Like amiodarone, dronedarone inhibits renal tubular secretion of
creatinine, which can increase plasma creatinine levels. However, there is no reduction in the glomerular
filtration rate. Dronedarone is metabolized by CYP3A4 and is a moderate inhibitor of CYP2D6 and P-
glycoprotein. Consequently, it increases levels of digoxin and dabigatran and should not be administered with
strong inhibitors of CYP3A4 (e.g., ketoconazole and macrolide antibiotics), which may potentiate its effects.
Dronedarone can be administered with verapamil or diltiazem, which are moderate CYP3A4 inhibitors, but low
doses of these agents should be used initially and titrated according to response and tolerance. Dronedarone does
not alter the INR when used with warfarin. Dronedarone has been associated with rare case reports of severe
hepatotoxicity occurring within 6 months of initiation; therefore monitoring of hepatic serum enzymes,
especially during the first 6 months of treatment, should be performed.
Disopyramide is a sodium channel-blocking drug with potent anticholinergic and negative inotropic
effects that can be considered for rhythm control in patients with AF. Disopyramide can reduce AF recurrence
after direct-current cardioversion (367). Because of its prominent vagolytic pharmacological effects,
disopyramide is useful in AF that occurs in the setting of high vagal tone ( vagally mediated AF ), such as sleep
and in response to stimuli that elicit a vagal response, but there is little supporting evidence for this approach. Its
negative inotropic effects may be desirable in patients with HCM associated with dynamic outflow tract
obstruction (368). Otherwise, it is avoided in structural heart disease. Disopyramide can also prolong the QT
interval.
Quinidine has a sodium channel-blocking effect at rapid heart rates and a potassium channel-blocking
effect at slower heart rates as well as vagolytic and alpha-adrenergic receptor blocking effects, and was among
the first antiarrhythmic drugs used to treat AF. It prolongs the QT interval, can cause torsades de pointes, and is
used infrequently. Cumulative evidence from a systematic review suggests that quinidine and disopyramide may
increase mortality slightly (358). Quinidine has no negative inotropic effects and can be used when there is
advanced renal dysfunction. Quinidine requires close ECG monitoring at initiation and may be an alternative
treatment for AF when other, newer antiarrhythmic drugs cannot be used.
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Beta blockers are usually not considered effective for maintaining sinus rhythm in patients with AF.
One placebo-controlled study of 394 patients with persistent AF found a lower risk of early recurrence after
cardioversion and slower ventricular response with sustained-release metoprolol than with placebo (369).
Combining an antiarrhythmic drug with a beta blocker may be helpful in some patients. These agents are useful
to prevent AF in patients following cardiac surgery and during a high-adrenergic state, such as exercise and
thyrotoxicosis-related AF. At least theoretically, they can aggravate vagally mediated AF.

See Online Data Supplement 12 for additional data on antiarrhythmic drug therapy
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
6.2.1.2. Outpatient Initiation of Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy
Drug-related proarrhythmia is most common during the initiation phase of drug therapy. Serial ECGs are
important to detect excessive QT prolongation (such as with dofetilide or sotalol), the appearance of giant U
waves, or QRS prolongation >25% (such as with flecainide or propafenone), and should be performed near the
time of peak drug concentration (370). Inpatient initiation or dose escalation of dofetilide in an
electrocardiographically monitored environment is required because of the risk of untoward QT interval
prolongation and arrhythmia provocation (325, 329). Sotalol also results in QT prolongation and may cause
proarrhythmia. Its initiation and dose escalation during hospitalization with electrocardiographic monitoring
should be considered; the package insert has a corresponding black box warning. There is considerable
experience, however, initiating sotalol in an outpatient setting. Some experts allow outpatient initiation when
sotalol is started with the patient in sinus rhythm provided the QT interval and serum potassium are normal and
no other QT interval-prolonging medications are present but require inpatient hospitalization when sotalol is
initiated while a patient is in AF (316). Other experts always initiate sotalol in an inpatient monitored setting.
Practice patterns vary widely both in terms of which patients are hospitalized for initiation of antiarrhythmic
drug therapy and in the length of hospitalization. The decision about whether to initiate other antiarrhythmic
drugs in an inpatient or outpatient setting should be carefully individualized (371). Data supporting the
outpatient initiation of antiarrhythmic drug therapy are best established for amiodarone and dronedarone (Table
13).

See Online Data Supplement 13 for additional data on antiarrhythmic drug therapy
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
6.2.2. Upstream Therapy: Recommendations

Class IIa
1. An ACE inhibitor or angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB) is reasonable for primary prevention of
new-onset AF in patients with HF with reduced LVEF (372-374). (Level of Evidence: B)

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Class IIb
2. Therapy with an ACE inhibitor or ARB may be considered for primary prevention of new-onset
AF in the setting of hypertension (81, 375). (Level of Evidence: B)
3. Statin therapy may be reasonable for primary prevention of new-onset AF after coronary artery
surgery (128, 376). (Level of Evidence: A)

Class III: No Benefit
1. Therapy with an ACE inhibitor, ARB, or statin is not beneficial for primary prevention of AF in
patients without cardiovascular disease (81, 377). (Level of Evidence: B)

The goal of upstream therapy (i.e., ACE inhibitors, ARBs, statins, and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) is to
modify the atrial substrate to reduce susceptibility to, or progression of, AF. Agents delivered as upstream drug
therapy might have the ability to halt or delay the cellular processes leading to AF either before (primary
prevention) or after (secondary prevention) the development of AF.
A number of prospective trials investigating ARBs and polyunsaturated fatty acids for prevention of
recurrent AF have been disappointing (81, 377-382). Although upstream therapies may be valuable strategies for
primary prevention of cardiac changes leading to AF in selected patients, reversal of AF substrate has not been
demonstrated and such therapy is not recommended for the prevention of AF recurrence in patients without
another indication. In retrospective studies and studies in which AF was a prespecified secondary endpoint,
ACE inhibitors or ARBs slightly reduce the development of AF in patients with HF and LV dysfunction and
possibly those with hypertension and LV hypertrophy (81). Several systematic reviews of statin therapy to
prevent AF have been performed (128, 378, 383, 384). The administration of statins may reduce postoperative
AF in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (128, 376, 385).

See Online Data Supplement 14 for additional data on upstream therapy
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
6.3. AF Catheter Ablation to Maintain Sinus Rhythm: Recommendations
Class I
1. AF catheter ablation is useful for symptomatic paroxysmal AF refractory or intolerant to at least
1 class I or III antiarrhythmic medication when a rhythm control strategy is desired (356, 386-
391). (Level of Evidence: A)
2. Prior to consideration of AF catheter ablation, assessment of the procedural risks and outcomes
relevant to the individual patient is recommended. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIa
1. AF catheter ablation is reasonable for selected patients with symptomatic persistent AF refractory
or intolerant to at least 1 class I or III antiarrhythmic medication (388, 392-394). (Level of
Evidence: A)
2. In patients with recurrent symptomatic paroxysmal AF, catheter ablation is a reasonable initial
rhythm control strategy prior to therapeutic trials of antiarrhythmic drug therapy, after weighing
risks and outcomes of drug and ablation therapy (395-397). (Level of Evidence: B)

Class IIb
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1. AF catheter ablation may be considered for symptomatic long-standing (>12 months) persistent
AF refractory or intolerant to at least 1 class I or III antiarrhythmic medication, when a rhythm
control strategy is desired (356, 398). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. AF catheter ablation may be considered prior to initiation of antiarrhythmic drug therapy with a
class I or III antiarrhythmic medication for symptomatic persistent AF, when a rhythm control
strategy is desired. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class III: Harm
1. AF catheter ablation should not be performed in patients who cannot be treated with
anticoagulant therapy during and following the procedure. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. AF catheter ablation to restore sinus rhythm should not be performed with the sole intent of
obviating the need for anticoagulation. (Level of Evidence: C)

The role of catheter ablation in the management of AF continues to evolve rapidly, with improvements in the
efficacy and safety of the procedure (29). The efficacy of radiofrequency catheter ablation for maintaining sinus
rhythm is superior to current antiarrhythmic drug therapy for maintenance of sinus rhythm in selected patient
populations. A number of systematic reviews of the efficacy of AF catheter ablation versus antiarrhythmic drug
therapy have been performed (356, 386-389, 399, 400). Cryoballoon ablation is an alternative to point-by-point
radiofrequency ablation to achieve pulmonary vein isolation (401). The evidence supporting the efficacy of
catheter ablation is strongest for paroxysmal AF in younger patients with little to no structural heart disease
(402) and in procedures performed in highly experienced centers. Studies have demonstrated a reduction of AF-
related symptoms in these contexts (403). Evidence is insufficient to determine whether AF catheter ablation
reduces all-cause mortality, stroke, and HF (8). Ongoing clinical trials (CABANA [Catheter Ablation Versus
Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation] and EAST [Early Therapy of Atrial Fibrillation for Stroke
Prevention Trial]) should provide new information for assessing whether AF catheter ablation is superior to
standard therapy with either rate- or rhythm-control drugs for reducing total mortality and other secondary
outcome measures, and whether early application of a rhythm-control therapy involving ablation, antiarrhythmic
drugs, or both, can impact endpoints of stroke, cardiovascular death, or HF compared with usual care. These
important trials will help to address whether catheter ablation provides benefit beyond improvements in quality
of life.

See Online Data Supplements 15 and 16 for additional data on maintaining sinus rhythm and AF catheter
ablation (http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
6.3.1. Patient Selection
The decision whether to pursue catheter ablation depends on a large number of variables, including the type of
AF (paroxysmal versus persistent verses longstanding persistent), degree of symptoms, presence of structural
heart disease, candidacy for alternative options such as rate control or antiarrhythmic drug therapy, likelihood of
complications, and patient preference (29). It is important to recognize that most patients enrolled in trials of AF
catheter ablation have generally been younger, healthy individuals with symptomatic paroxysmal AF refractory
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to ≥1 antiarrhythmic medication. The safety and efficacy of catheter ablation are less well established for other
populations of patients, especially patients with longstanding persistent AF, very elderly patients, and patients
with significant HF including tachycardia-induced cardiomyopathy (29) (Section 6.3). Figure 7 shows an
approach to the integration of antiarrhythmic drugs and catheter ablation of AF in patients without and with
structural heart disease.

Figure 7. Strategies for Rhythm Control in Patients with Paroxysmal* and Persistent AF

*Catheter ablation is only recommended as first-line therapy for patients with paroxysmal AF (Class IIa recommendation).
Drugs are listed alphabetically.
Depending on patient preference when performed in experienced centers.
§Not recommended with severe LVH (wall thickness >1.5 cm).
║Should be used with caution in patients at risk for torsades de pointes ventricular tachycardia.
¶Should be combined with AV nodal blocking agents.
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; CAD, coronary artery disease; HF, heart failure; and LVH, left ventricular hypertrophy.

Two RCTs compared radiofrequency catheter ablation with antiarrhythmic drug therapy as a first-line rhythm
control treatment. The RAAFT (Radiofrequency Ablation Versus Antiarrhythmic Drug for Atrial Fibrillation
Treatment) II trial compared the efficacy of AF catheter ablation with that of antiarrhythmic drug therapy as
first-line therapy for rhythm control in 127 patients (88% paroxysmal AF) with a higher 1-year freedom from
AF (45% versus 28%; p=0.02) (396). The MANTRA-PAF (Medical Antiarrhythmic Treatment or
Radiofrequency Ablation in Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation) trial compared AF catheter ablation with
antiarrhythmic drug therapy as first-line therapy in 294 patients (404). At the 24-month follow-up, more patients
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in the ablation group were free from any AF or symptomatic AF and quality of life was significantly better
(397). However, total AF burden was not significantly different between the 2 groups and major complications
requiring intervention were more common in the ablation group. On the basis of these data, radiofrequency
catheter ablation may be considered as first-line therapy in select patients prior to a trial of antiarrhythmic drug
therapy when a rhythm control strategy is desired.
6.3.2. Recurrence After Catheter Ablation
Recurrences of AF after catheter ablation are common during the first 3 months and do not preclude long-term
success, although they are associated with an increased risk of procedural failure and rehospitalization.
Therefore, when AF occurs early after catheter ablation, a pharmacologic rhythm control approach rather than
early repeat ablation should be considered (29). Patients who have had AF catheter ablation and develop
persistent AF within the 3 months following ablation may require cardioversion. Recurrent AF after 3 months is
usually an indication of recovery of pulmonary vein conduction and may respond to repeat ablation or initiation
of an antiarrhythmic drug (405). A number of centers have reported late AF recurrences >1 year after catheter
ablation (78, 406-409).
6.3.3. Anticoagulation Therapy Periablation
Because of the well-established risk of periprocedure stroke or TIA associated with AF catheter ablation, there
is consensus that anticoagulation is indicated to prevent thromboembolism around the time of radiofrequency
catheter ablation regardless of the patient s baseline thromboembolic risk. Detailed consensus recommendations
have been published regarding the approach to anticoagulation prior to, during, and following catheter ablation
(29). Both intraprocedural heparin and oral anticoagulation for ≥2 months postprocedure are recommended. AF
catheter ablation should not be performed in patients who cannot be treated with anticoagulant therapy during
and following the procedure.
Several reports indicate that AF catheter ablation may be performed with fewer complications when oral
warfarin anticoagulation is continued as an alternative to a bridging approach with UFH or LMWH (236, 410-
412). Several centers reported their experience with the use of direct thrombin and factor Xa inhibitors (mainly
dabigatran) around the time of AF catheter ablation (237, 317, 413-416). Typically, dabigatran was held for 1 or
2 doses prior to the ablation procedure, in part reflecting the lack of a reversal agent. These reports suggest that
the use of dabigatran is associated with a similar risk of bleeding and thromboembolic complications compared
with uninterrupted warfarin; however, this is not a uniform finding (237).
Continuation of anticoagulation >2 months following AF catheter ablation, if the procedure is perceived
successful, should be based on consideration of the patient’s thromboembolic risk profile (Section 4.1), bleeding
risk, and patient choice. Recurrence of AF following ablation is 3- to 7-fold more likely to be asymptomatic
compared with prior to ablation (417, 418), and late recurrences of AF can occur. Several large case series have
reported a low risk of stroke after AF ablation (419-422). Although the stroke rate is low in these series, few
patients at high risk of stroke were monitored after anticoagulation was stopped for a significant period of time.
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6.3.4. Catheter Ablation in HF
A number of smaller clinical trials have evaluated the role of AF catheter ablation in selected patients with LV
dysfunction and HF and demonstrate a reasonable rate of successful sinus rhythm maintenance with
improvements in LVEF and symptoms (48, 300, 423). The degree to which LVEF improves varies according to
patient characteristics (424). In cases where the LV dysfunction is thought to be due to AF itself, AF catheter
ablation and maintenance of sinus rhythm may result in a marked improvement. It may be difficult to determine
in this population whether symptoms are related to AF or the underlying HF and whether the AF itself has
contributed to the decline in LVEF. Improved rate control or cardioversion with antiarrhythmic drug therapy
may help determine the causality. Because of the extent of remodeling and underlying heart disease, recurrence
rates (425) and complication rates are higher in this population. A meta-analysis reported that the single-
procedure efficacy of AF catheter ablation was lower in patients with systolic dysfunction, but a similar success
rate could be achieved among patients with and without systolic dysfunction with repeat procedures (426).
Patient selection biases likely influence reported outcomes. Taken as a whole, catheter ablation may be
reasonable to treat symptomatic AF in selected patients with significant LV dysfunction and HF.
6.3.5. Complications Following AF Catheter Ablation
AF catheter ablation is associated with important risks of major complications. A 2010 international survey of
radiofrequency catheter ablation procedures reported a 4.5% incidence of major complications, including a 1.3%
rate of cardiac tamponade, a 0.94% rate of stroke or TIA, a 0.04% rate of atrial-esophageal fistula, and a 0.15%
rate of death (427). A European observational multinational registry reported a complication rate of 7.7%, of
which 1.7% were major complications (428). A report from a state-wide inpatient database described a
complication rate of 5% with a 9% readmission rate (429). Much of the data regarding rates of complications is
derived from experienced centers or voluntary registries.
Table 14 lists the complications associated with radiofrequency catheter ablation for AF. A detailed
summary of definitions and prevention of specific complications is covered elsewhere (29). Factors associated
with complication rates include older age, female sex, and a CHADS2 score of ≥2 (429-431). Also, LA catheter
ablation results in a small incidence of asymptomatic cerebral embolism detectable on cranial magnetic
resonance imaging. Most of these lesions resolve or disappear over time. Further research is needed to better
define the relationship between ablation strategy and risk, and to determine methods to eliminate them (29, 432,
433).

Table 14. Complications of Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation for AF
Complication Symptoms/Signs Treatment
Air embolism Acute ischemia, cardiac arrest, AV
block, hypotension
Supplemental oxygen, fluids, CPR, or
pacing if indicated
Atrial-esophageal fistula Usually 1 4 wk after ablation,
dysphagia, unexplained fever, chills,
CT or MRI of esophagus, avoiding
endoscopy, immediate surgical
correction
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sepsis, neurological events (septic
emboli)
Cardiac tamponade/perforation Abrupt or gradual fall in BP Pericardiocentesis, emergent surgical
drainage if pericardiocentesis fails
Phrenic nerve injury resulting in
diaphragmatic paralysis
Shortness of breath, elevated
hemidiaphragm
None, usually resolves spontaneously
Iatrogenic atrial flutter Tachycardia Cardioversion, antiarrhythmic drugs,
or repeat ablation
Gastric motility disorder Nausea, vomiting, bloating, abdominal
pain
Depends on severity of symptoms
Mitral valve injury requiring
surgery
Entrapment of catheter Advance sheath with gentle catheter
retraction, surgical removal
MI Chest pain, ST changes, hypotension Standard therapy
Pericarditis Chest pain, typical quality NSAIDs, colchicine, steroids
Pulmonary vein stenosis Shortness of breath, cough,
hemoptysis
PV dilation/stent or no therapy
Radiation injury Pain and reddening at radiation site,
can present late
Treat as burn injury
Stroke or TIA Neurological deficit Consider lysis therapy
Vascular access complication
• Femoral pseudo aneurysm

Pain or pulsatile mass at groin

Observation, compression, thrombin
injection, possible surgery
• Arteriovenous fistula Pain, bruit at groin site Observation, compression, possible
surgery
• Hematoma Pain, swelling Compression
Death N/A N/A
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; BP, blood pressure; CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation; CT,
computed tomography; MI, myocardial infarction; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; N/A, not applicable; NSAIDs,
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; PV, pulmonary valve; and TIA, transient ischemic attack.
6.4. Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators for the Prevention of AF
The primary role of pacemakers in the treatment of patients with AF is for treatment of symptomatic
bradycardia, which is often related to underlying sick sinus syndrome. Antiarrhythmic therapy may exacerbate
sick sinus syndrome and require pacemaker implantation. For patients with sick sinus syndrome who need
pacing, atrial or dual chamber pacing significantly decreases the incidence of subsequent AF compared with RV
pacing (17). Attempts to prevent AF episodes by proprietary overdrive atrial pacing algorithms that react to
premature atrial complexes are inconsistent (17). Therefore, permanent pacing is not indicated for the prevention
of AF in patients without other indications for pacemaker implantation. Atrial defibrillators to automatically
cardiovert AF do not have clinical value; most patients find discharge energies >1 J uncomfortable and early
recurrence of AF following a shock is common. Implanted defibrillators are not indicated for rhythm control of
AF.
6.5. Surgery Maze Procedures: Recommendations

Class IIa
1. An AF surgical ablation procedure is reasonable for selected patients with AF undergoing cardiac
surgery for other indications. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIb
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1. A stand-alone AF surgical ablation procedure may be reasonable for selected patients with highly
symptomatic AF not well managed with other approaches (434). (Level of Evidence: B)

The surgical maze procedure was introduced in 1987. The initial 2 iterations were associated with high rates of
pacemaker implantation and are no longer performed. The third version (Cox maze III) became the standard
surgical procedure to restore sinus rhythm in patients with AF (435) but is not widely performed because of
surgeons reluctance to perform this complicated cut and sew atrial lines of ablation operation approach in
association with valve or coronary artery bypass procedures or as a stand-alone procedure. The Cox maze
intravenous operation is less invasive, using radiofrequency or cryoablation to replicate surgical lines of ablation
(436).
Data regarding long-term outcomes in patients undergoing stand-alone AF surgery are limited. Of 282
patients prospectively studied from 2002 to 2009 undergoing the Cox maze IV procedure, 42% had paroxysmal
AF and 58% had either persistent or longstanding persistent AF (436). Ninety-five of 282 patients (34%) had a
stand-alone procedure and 187 of 282 patients (66%) had a concomitant AF procedure. Overall operative
mortality was 2% (1% in stand-alone maze procedures) and freedom from atrial tachyarrhythmias was 89%,
93%, and 89% at 3, 6, and 12 months, respectively. Freedom from atrial tachyarrhythmias off all antiarrhythmic
drugs was 63%, 79%, and 78% at 3, 6, and 12 months, respectively. In the period of the study subsequent to
2006, 24-hour Holter monitoring or pacemaker interrogation was performed in these patients. In this cohort,
92% were free of atrial tachyarrhythmias and 78% were not taking antiarrhythmic drugs (436).
Nine RCTs comparing patients who undergo concomitant AF surgery with patients who undergo mitral
valve surgery alone suggest greater freedom from AF in treated patients (437-445); however, in the composite
body of evidence, there was no consistent surgical technique, patient populations in the trial were quite varied, a
consistent endpoint defining procedural success was lacking, and long-term clinical endpoints were often
missing as well.
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Adult Cardiac Surgery Database from 2005 to 2010 recorded 91,801
AF surgical ablations, of which 4,893 (5.3%) were stand-alone procedures (446). Propensity matching of 1,708
patients with and without cardiopulmonary bypass showed no difference in mortality risk between groups, but
the off bypass group had fewer reoperations for bleeding, shorter hospital stay, and less prolonged ventilation.
Minimally invasive stand-alone operations, bilateral pulmonary vein isolation, intraoperative confirmation of
mapping, ablation of ganglionic plexi, and exclusion of the LAA procedures have been developed. Of 114
patients undergoing bilateral mini-thoracotomy surgical ablation of AF, 2 patients (1.8%) died within the
perioperative period and the overall complication rate was 10% (447). At the 6-month follow-up (ECG, Holter
monitor, event monitor, or pacemaker interrogation), 52 of 60 patients (87%) with paroxysmal AF were in sinus
rhythm and 43 of 60 patients (72%) were off antiarrhythmic drugs. In patients with persistent or long-standing
persistent AF, the success rates of freedom from AF were lower, at 18 of 32 patients (56%) and 11 of 22 patients
(50%), respectively.
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The FAST (Atrial Fibrillation Catheter Ablation Versus Surgical Ablation Treatment) trial compared the
outcomes of catheter ablation and surgical ablation in a randomized study design (434). Patients either had left
atrial dilation and hypertension (42 patients, 33%) or failed prior catheter ablation (82 patients, 67%). Freedom
from atrial arrhythmias was greater after surgical ablation compared with catheter ablation, but the complication
rate after surgical ablation was higher. Decisions regarding the choice of catheter-based or surgical ablation
must be made on the basis of patient preference, and institutional experience and outcomes with each therapy
(29).
7. Specific Patient Groups and AF
See Table 15 for a summary of recommendations for this section and Online Data Supplement 17 for additional
data on specific patient groups and AF
(http://circ.ahajournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000041/-/DC2).
7.1. Athletes
Paroxysmal or persistent AF is common in athletes and may be autonomically mediated or triggered by other
supraventricular tachycardias (448). Contributing conditions such as hypertension and CAD should be
considered, particularly for older athletes, and a transthoracic echocardiogram is helpful to evaluate for
structural heart disease. Evaluation of the rate of ventricular response during an episode of AF is warranted and
may require ambulatory ECG monitoring and/or exercise testing to a level of exertion similar to that of the
intended sport. Other therapies such as radiofrequency catheter ablation or a pill-in-the-pocket approach can
be considered in athletes. Specifics of these therapies are considered in Section 6.1.3 (449).
7.2. Elderly
The prevalence of AF increases with age and approximately 35% of patients with AF are ≥80 years of age (31,
32). The elderly are a heterogeneous group with potential for multiple comorbidities (Table 3). It is critical to
consider the implications of comorbidities to ensure that the patient s overall goals of care are factored into
management decisions. For the older patient with AF, symptoms may be minimal and somewhat atypical. The
risk of stroke is increased in the elderly. It is for this reason that the CHA2DS2-VASc risk scoring system
identifies 65 to 74 years of age as a minor risk factor for stroke and ≥75 years of age as a major stroke risk factor
(Section 4.1).
Because AF is often associated with minimal or no symptoms in this population, and the clearance of
antiarrhythmic medications is diminished, sensitivity to proarrhythmic effects, including bradyarrhythmias, is
often increased. Therefore a rate control strategy is often preferred (31), and direct-current cardioversion is less
often warranted (450). Typically, rate control can be achieved with beta blockers or nondihydropyridine calcium
channel antagonists. Care must be taken in these patients as they are often more susceptible to orthostatic
hypotension or bradyarrhythmias and when AF is paroxysmal and sinus node dysfunction is more common.
Comorbidities should also be considered. Digoxin can be useful for rate control in the relatively sedentary
individual, but there are concerns about its risks (Section 5.1.3).
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7.3. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: Recommendations

Class I
1. Anticoagulation is indicated in patients with HCM with AF independent of the CHA2DS2-VASc
score (51, 451). (Level of Evidence: B)

Class IIa
1. Antiarrhythmic medications can be useful to prevent recurrent AF in patients with HCM.
Amiodarone, or disopyramide combined with a beta blocker or nondihydropyridine calcium
channel antagonists are reasonable therapies. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. AF catheter ablation can be beneficial in patients with HCM in whom a rhythm-control strategy
is desired when antiarrhythmic drugs fail or are not tolerated (452-455). (Level of Evidence: B)

Class IIb
1. Sotalol, dofetilide, and dronedarone may be considered for a rhythm-control strategy in patients
with HCM (12). (Level of Evidence: C)

Patients with HCM are considered separately because their unique pathology serves to distinguish them from
other patients with LV hypertrophy. HCM is defined on the basis of standard criteria such as the
echocardiographic identification of a hypertrophied, nondilated LV in the absence of another cardiac or systemic
disease capable of producing the magnitude of hypertrophy evident (456). AF is relatively common in HCM,
increases with age, and is often poorly tolerated symptomatically (51). The incidence of AF is estimated at 2%
per year in patients with HCM and approximately two-thirds of patients with both HCM and AF are paroxysmal
(51). AF is associated with increased mortality in patients with HCM (3% in patients with AF versus 1% in
sinus rhythm per year) (51, 457) and is primarily due to HF. The HF risk associated with AF in patients with
HCM is worse in patients with outflow obstruction and those who develop AF before 50 years of age (51).
There is an important risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with HCM and AF (51, 458,
459). In a study of 480 patients with HCM, the OR for stroke in those with AF was 17.7 (51). Although no
randomized studies of anticoagulant therapy have been reported, the incidence of thromboembolism in patients
with HCM and AF is high and anticoagulation is indicated for these patients independent of their other
CHA2DS2-VASc (or CHADS2) score. Anticoagulation with direct thrombin or factor Xa inhibitors may
represent another option to reduce the risk of thromboembolic events, but data for patients with HCM are not
available (4-7, 51, 170, 451).
Given the poor tolerance of AF in patients with HCM, a rhythm-control strategy is preferred. However,
for those patients for whom a rate-control strategy is chosen, a nondihydropyridine calcium channel blocker, a
beta blocker, or a combination of the 2 is preferable. Digoxin, a positive inotrope, may increase the outflow
gradient in HCM patients and should be avoided. There have been no systematic studies of the treatment of AF
in patients with HCM, but various antiarrhythmic agents have been used, including disopyramide, propafenone,
amiodarone, sotalol, dofetilide, and dronedarone. An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator may provide added
safety with QT interval-prolonging drugs. Amiodarone or disopyramide in combination with ventricular rate-
controlling agents are generally preferred (12, 460).
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Success and complication rates for AF catheter ablation appear to be similar for HCM and other forms
of heart disease, but reported outcomes are likely influenced by selection bias (12, 452, 454). The surgical maze
procedure for AF shows some success (461); however, the role of a surgical maze procedure for patients
undergoing other open chest surgical procedures (i.e., septal myectomy) is unresolved (12, 461).
7.4. AF Complicating ACS: Recommendations

Class I
1. Urgent direct-current cardioversion of new-onset AF in the setting of ACS is recommended for
patients with hemodynamic compromise, ongoing ischemia, or inadequate rate control. (Level of
Evidence: C)
2. Intravenous beta blockers are recommended to slow a rapid ventricular response to AF in
patients with ACS who do not display HF, hemodynamic instability, or bronchospasm. (Level of
Evidence: C)
3. For patients with ACS and AF with CHA2DS2-VASc score of 2 or greater, anticoagulation with
warfarin is recommended unless contraindicated. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIb
1. Administration of amiodarone or digoxin may be considered to slow a rapid ventricular response
in patients with ACS and AF associated with severe LV dysfunction and HF or hemodynamic
instability. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. Administration of nondihydropyridine calcium antagonists might be considered to slow a rapid
ventricular response in patients with ACS and AF only in the absence of significant HF or
hemodynamic instability. (Level of Evidence: C)

The incidence of AF in patients with ACS ranges from 10% to 21% and increases with patient age and severity
of MI (130, 462). In the Medicare population, AF is associated with increased in-hospital mortality (25.3% with
AF versus 16.0% without AF), 30-day mortality (29.3% versus 19.1%), and 1-year mortality (48.3% versus
32.7%) (130). With multivariate adjustment, AF remains an independent predictor of mortality: in-hospital (OR:
1.21), 30-day (OR: 1.20), and 1-year (OR: 1.34) (130). Patients who develop AF during hospitalization have a
worse prognosis than those with AF on admission (130). Stroke rates are increased in patients with MI and AF
compared with rates in those without AF (3.1% for those with AF versus 1.3% for those in normal sinus rhythm)
(462). Thus, AF is an independent predictor of poor long-term outcome in patients with ACS (463, 464).
Specific recommendations for management of patients with AF in the setting of ACS are based primarily on
consensus because no adequate trials have tested alternative strategies (21).
Patients treated for ACS normally require dual antiplatelet therapy with aspirin plus other platelet
inhibitors, such as clopidogrel, and may require the addition of warfarin or a novel oral anticoagulant ( triple
therapy ) as treatment of AF (179) (Section 4.3). In patients with long-standing AF or a moderate-to-high
CHA2DS2-VASc score, efforts should be directed to minimize duration of triple therapy and the decisions about
stent insertion should consider the potential requirement for long-term anticoagulant therapy. For patients who
develop transient AF as a complication of ACS and who do not have a prior history of AF, the need for
anticoagulation and the duration of oral anticoagulation should be based on the patient s CHA2DS2-VASc score.
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Use of dual antiplatelet therapy alone may be considered for patients with ACS who have AF and a low
CHA2DS2-VASc score, with reconsideration of the indications for anticoagulation over time (192, 316). An
option is to consider the use of oral anticoagulation plus clopidogrel with or without aspirin (179). The novel
oral anticoagulants have not been evaluated in the context of AF and ACS and thus no recommendation for their
use can be made.
Urgent direct-current cardioversion is appropriate in patients with ACS presenting with new-onset AF
and intractable ischemia, hemodynamic instability, or inadequate rate control. Intravenous administration of a
beta blocker is indicated for rate control in patients with ACS to reduce myocardial oxygen demands.
Intravenous amiodarone is an appropriate alternative for rate control and may facilitate conversion to normal
sinus rhythm. Digoxin may be considered in those with severe LV dysfunction and HF or hemodynamic
instability. Systemic anticoagulation is indicated in those with large anterior infarcts and in survivors of ACS
who develop persistent AF. Treatment with ACE inhibitors appears to reduce the incidence of AF in patients
with LV dysfunction after ACS (465, 466).
7.5. Hyperthyroidism: Recommendations

Class I
1. Beta blockers are recommended to control ventricular rate in patients with AF complicating
thyrotoxicosis unless contraindicated. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. In circumstances in which a beta blocker cannot be used, a nondihydropyridine calcium channel
antagonist is recommended to control the ventricular rate. (Level of Evidence: C)

AF is the most common arrhythmia in patients with hyperthyroidism (5% to 15% of patients) and is more
frequent amongst those >60 years of age (144, 467, 468). Complications of AF in hyperthyroidism include HF
and thromboembolism, although the correlation with thromboembolic disease is controversial (467-475).
Treatment is directed primarily toward restoring an euthyroid state, which is usually associated with a
spontaneous reversion of AF to sinus rhythm. Antiarrhythmic drugs and cardioversion often fail to achieve
sustained sinus rhythm while thyrotoxicosis persists (476); therefore, efforts to restore normal sinus rhythm may
be deferred until the patient is euthyroid. Beta blockers are effective in controlling the ventricular rate in this
situation, and treatment with beta blockers is particularly important in cases of thyroid storm;
nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists are recommended for rate control (477). Although several
studies reported thromboembolism in patients with thyrotoxicosis and AF, evidence suggests that embolic risk
was not necessarily increased independent of other stroke risk factors (478, 479). Anticoagulation for the patient
with thyrotoxicosis and AF should be guided by CHA2DS2-VASc risk factors (Section 4. 1 and 4.1.1.).
Hyperthyroidism and thyrotoxicosis can infrequently result from long-term amiodarone use. In the event
of iatrogenic hyperthyroidism during treatment with amiodarone, the drug should be discontinued. The risks and
benefits of treating patients with AF with a known history of thyroid disease with amiodarone should be
carefully weighed prior to initiation of therapy and patients should be monitored closely (480).
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7.6. Acute Noncardiac Illness
A number of acute noncardiac conditions are associated with AF (e.g., hypertension, postoperative state,
pulmonary embolism, viral infections). Management of the underlying condition and correction of contributing
factors as first-line treatment is common to all of these scenarios (481) and many of these patients will
spontaneously convert with correction of the underlying condition. However, during acute illness, patients may
require rate control with cardioversion, AV nodal blockers, and/or antiarrhythmic drugs if AF is poorly tolerated
or rate control is not feasible. The specific rate or rhythm control agent(s) will depend on the underlying medical
condition. Of note is that an elevated catecholamine state is common to many of these clinical circumstances,
and unless contraindicated, a beta blocker is the preferred initial drug. The role of anticoagulation is less clear
and likely disease-specific, and needs to be addressed on the basis of risk profile and duration of AF.
7.7. Pulmonary Disease: Recommendations

Class I
1. A nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist is recommended to control the ventricular rate
in patients with AF and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. Direct-current cardioversion should be attempted in patients with pulmonary disease who become
hemodynamically unstable as a consequence of new onset AF. (Level of Evidence: C)

Supraventricular arrhythmias, including AF, are common in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary
disorder (482-484). AF should be distinguished from multifocal atrial tachycardia, which is unlikely to respond
to electrical cardioversion, but will often slow with treatment of the underlying disease and in response to
nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers (485). Treatment of the underlying lung disease and correction of
hypoxia and acid-base imbalance are of primary importance in this situation and represent first-line therapy.
Antiarrhythmic drug therapy and cardioversion may be ineffective against AF until respiratory decompensation
has been corrected. Theophylline and beta adrenergic agonists can precipitate AF and make control of the
ventricular response rate difficult. Non beta-1 selective blockers, sotalol, propafenone, and adenosine are
contraindicated in patients with bronchospasm. However, beta blockers, sotalol, or propafenone may be
considered in patients with obstructive lung disease who develop AF and do not have bronchospasm. Rate
control can usually be achieved safely with nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists or possibly
amiodarone (268). Digoxin can be used with calcium channel blockers, particularly in those with preserved
LVEF (486). In patients refractory to drug therapy, AV nodal ablation and ventricular pacing may be necessary
to control the ventricular rate. Anticoagulation, while not specifically studied in patients with AF due to
pulmonary disease, is discussed in Section 4.2. for risk-based antithrombotic therapy.
7.8. WPW and Pre-Excitation Syndromes: Recommendations

Class I
1. Prompt direct-current cardioversion is recommended for patients with AF, WPW, and rapid
ventricular response who are hemodynamically compromised (64). (Level of Evidence: C)
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2. Intravenous procainamide or ibutilide to restore sinus rhythm or slow the ventricular rate is
recommended for patients with pre-excited AF and rapid ventricular response who are not
hemodynamically compromised (64). (Level of Evidence: C)
3. Catheter ablation of the accessory pathway is recommended in symptomatic patients with pre-
excited AF, especially if the accessory pathway has a short refractory period that allows rapid
antegrade conduction (64). (Level of Evidence: C)

Class III: Harm
1. Administration of intravenous amiodarone, adenosine, digoxin (oral or intravenous), or
nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists (oral or intravenous) in patients with WPW
syndrome who have pre-excited AF is potentially harmful as they accelerate the ventricular rate
(487-489). (Level of Evidence: B)

AF is of specific concern in patients with WPW because of the potential for degeneration to ventricular
fibrillation related to rapidly conducting anterograde accessory pathways. The risk of developing AF over 10
years in patients with WPW is estimated at 15%, although the mechanism of increased AF risk is poorly
understood (490, 491). Approximately 25% of patients with WPW syndrome have accessory pathways with
short anterograde refractory periods (<250 ms), which are associated with a risk of rapid ventricular rates and
ventricular fibrillation (492, 493). Patients with multiple accessory pathways are also at greater risk of
ventricular fibrillation (492). The safety and efficacy of catheter ablation of accessory pathway is established
(64); however, ablation of the accessory pathway does not always prevent AF, especially in older patients, and
additional pharmacological or ablative therapy may be required. Once the accessory pathway has been
eliminated, the process of selecting pharmacological therapy is the same as for patients without pre-excitation.
Specifics of antiarrhythmic therapies are described in Section 6. During AF, the ventricular rate is
determined by competing conduction over the AV node and the accessory pathway(s). As with any unstable
arrhythmia, cardioversion is recommended for hemodynamic instability (64). Agents that slow AV nodal
conduction without prolonging accessory pathway refractoriness can accelerate the ventricular rate and
precipitate hemodynamic collapse and ventricular fibrillation in high-risk patients. Intravenous administration of
ibutilide or procainamide may slow the rate of conduction over the accessory pathway, slow the ventricular rate,
or may convert AF to sinus rhythm; it is recommended for hemodynamically stable patients in the setting of AF
with conduction over an accessory pathway. Verapamil, diltiazem, adenosine, digoxin (oral or intravenous), and
intravenous amiodarone can precipitate ventricular fibrillation and should not be used (487, 489). Similarly,
lidocaine use in pre-excited AF is considered potentially harmful (494). Oral amiodarone can slow or block
accessory pathway conduction during chronic oral therapy. Although beta blockers theoretically pose a similar
potential risk, there are few data regarding administration of these agents in rapid AF in patients with WPW;
nevertheless, they should be used with caution (488, 495).
7.9. Heart Failure: Recommendations

Class I
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1. Control of resting heart rate using either a beta blocker or a nondihydropyridine calcium channel
antagonist is recommended for patients with persistent or permanent AF and compensated HF
with preserved EF (HFpEF) (262). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. In the absence of pre-excitation, intravenous beta blocker administration (or a
nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist in patients with HFpEF) is recommended to slow
the ventricular response to AF in the acute setting, with caution needed in patients with overt
congestion, hypotension, or HF with reduced LVEF (496-499). (Level of Evidence: B)
3. In the absence of pre-excitation, intravenous digoxin or amiodarone is recommended to control
heart rate acutely in patients with HF (270, 497, 500, 501). (Level of Evidence: B)
4. Assessment of heart rate control during exercise and adjustment of pharmacological treatment to
keep the rate in the physiological range is useful in symptomatic patients during activity. (Level of
Evidence: C)
5. Digoxin is effective to control resting heart rate in patients with HF with reduced EF. (Level of
Evidence: C)

Class IIa
1. A combination of digoxin and a beta blocker (or a nondihydropyridine calcium channel
antagonist for patients with HFpEF), is reasonable to control resting and exercise heart rate in
patients with AF (260, 497). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. It is reasonable to perform AV node ablation with ventricular pacing to control heart rate when
pharmacological therapy is insufficient or not tolerated (262, 502, 503). (Level of Evidence: B)
3. Intravenous amiodarone can be useful to control the heart rate in patients with AF when other
measures are unsuccessful or contraindicated. (Level of Evidence: C)
4. For patients with AF and rapid ventricular response causing or suspected of causing tachycardia-
induced cardiomyopathy, it is reasonable to achieve rate control by either AV nodal blockade or a
rhythm-control strategy (52, 300, 504). (Level of Evidence: B)
5. For patients with chronic HF who remain symptomatic from AF despite a rate-control strategy, it
is reasonable to use a rhythm-control strategy. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIb
1. Oral amiodarone may be considered when resting and exercise heart rate cannot be adequately
controlled using a beta blocker (or a nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist in patients
with HFpEF) or digoxin, alone or in combination. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. AV node ablation may be considered when the rate cannot be controlled and tachycardia-
mediated cardiomyopathy is suspected. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class III: Harm
1. AV node ablation should not be performed without a pharmacological trial to achieve ventricular
rate control. (Level of Evidence: C)
2. For rate control, intravenous nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists, intravenous beta
blockers, and dronedarone should not be administered to patients with decompensated HF. (Level
of Evidence: C)

Patients with HF are more likely than the general population to develop AF (39) and there is a direct relationship
between the NYHA class and the prevalence of AF in patients with HF, progressing from 4% in those who are
NYHA class I to 40% in those who are NYHA class IV (505). AF is a strong independent risk factor for
subsequent development of HF as well (39, 506). In addition to those with HF and depressed EFs, patients with
HF due to diastolic dysfunction with HFpEF are also at greater risk for AF (507). HF and AF can interact to
perpetuate and exacerbate each other through mechanisms such as rate-dependent worsening of cardiac function,
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fibrosis, and activation of neurohumoral vasoconstrictors. AF can worsen symptoms in patients with HF and
conversely, worsened HF can promote a rapid ventricular response in AF.
Similar to other patient populations, the main goals of therapy for those with AF and HF are prevention of
thromboembolism and symptom control. Most patients with AF and HF expect to be candidates for systemic
anticoagulation unless contraindicated (Section 4). General principles of management include correction of
underlying causes of AF and HF as well as optimization of HF management. As in other patient populations, the
issue of rate control versus rhythm control has been investigated. For patients who develop HF as a result of AF,
a rhythm-control strategy should be pursued. It is important to recognize that AF with a rapid ventricular
response is 1 of the few potentially reversible causes of HF. Therefore a patient who presents with newly
detected HF in the presence of AF with a rapid ventricular response should be presumed to have a rate-related
cardiomyopathy until proved otherwise. In this situation, 2 strategies can be considered. One is to rate control
the patient s AF and see if the HF and EF improve. The other strategy is to attempt to restore and maintain sinus
rhythm. In this situation, it is common practice to initiate amiodarone and then arrange for cardioversion a
month later. Amiodarone has the advantage of being both an effective rate-control medication and the most
effective antiarrhythmic medication with a low risk of proarrhythmia.
In patients with HF who develop AF, a rhythm-control strategy is not superior to a rate-control strategy
(508). If rhythm control is chosen, AF catheter ablation in patients with HF may lead to an improvement in LV
function and quality of life but is less likely to be effective than in patients with intact cardiac function (48, 300).
Because of their favorable effect on morbidity and mortality in patients with systolic HF, beta blockers are
the preferred agents for achieving rate control unless otherwise contraindicated. Digoxin may be an effective
adjunct to a beta blocker. Nondihydropyridine calcium antagonists, such as diltiazem, should be used with
caution in those with depressed EF because of their negative inotropic effect. For those with HF and preserved
EF, nondihydropyridine calcium antagonists can be effective at achieving rate control but may be more effective
when used in combination with digoxin. For those patients for whom a rate-control strategy is chosen, AV node
ablation and cardiac resynchronization therapy device placement can be useful when rate control cannot be
achieved either because of drug inefficacy or intolerance (509-514).
7.10. Familial (Genetic) AF: Recommendation

Class IIb
1. For patients with AF and multigenerational family members with AF, referral to a tertiary care
center for genetic counseling and testing may be considered. (Level of Evidence: C)

AF is heritable and having an affected family member is associated with a 40% increased risk of the arrhythmia.
(147, 515-518). Premature AF, defined as a first-degree relative with an onset of AF prior to 66 years of age, is
associated with a doubling in the risk of AF (147). Thus it is common, particularly among younger, healthier
individuals with AF, to observe families with AF. In the last 10 years, many mutations have been identified in
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individuals and families with AF (519). The implicated genes include a wide-range of ion channels, signaling
molecules, and related proteins; however, the role of these mutations in more common forms of AF appears
limited. Population-based or genome-wide association studies identified ≥9 distinct genetic loci for AF (148-
151). Furthermore, combinations of AF-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms may identify individuals at
high risk for arrhythmia (520, 521). However, the role of these common genetic variants in risk stratification
(147, 522, 523), assessment of disease progression, and determination of clinical outcomes (149, 524, 525) is
currently limited. Routine genetic testing related to AF is not indicated (526).
7.11. Postoperative Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery: Recommendations

Class I
1. Treating patients who develop AF after cardiac surgery with a beta blocker is recommended
unless contraindicated (527-530). (Level of Evidence: A)
2. A nondihydropyridine calcium channel blocker is recommended when a beta blocker is
inadequate to achieve rate control in patients with postoperative AF (531). (Level of Evidence: B)

Class IIa
1. Preoperative administration of amiodarone reduces the incidence of AF in patients undergoing
cardiac surgery and is reasonable as prophylactic therapy for patients at high risk for
postoperative AF (532-534). (Level of Evidence: A)
2. It is reasonable to restore sinus rhythm pharmacologically with ibutilide or direct-current
cardioversion in patients who develop postoperative AF, as advised for nonsurgical patients (535).
(Level of Evidence: B)
3. It is reasonable to administer antiarrhythmic medications in an attempt to maintain sinus rhythm
in patients with recurrent or refractory postoperative AF, as advised for other patients who
develop AF (531). (Level of Evidence: B)
4. It is reasonable to administer antithrombotic medication in patients who develop postoperative
AF, as advised for nonsurgical patients (536). (Level of Evidence: B)
5. It is reasonable to manage well-tolerated, new-onset postoperative AF with rate control and
anticoagulation with cardioversion if AF does not revert spontaneously to sinus rhythm during
follow-up. (Level of Evidence: C)

Class IIb
1. Prophylactic administration of sotalol may be considered for patients at risk of developing AF
following cardiac surgery (530, 537). (Level of Evidence: B)
2. Administration of colchicine may be considered for patients postoperatively to reduce AF
following cardiac surgery (538). ( Level of Evidence: B)

Postoperative AF occurs in 25% to 50% of patients after open heart surgery. Increased age is the most consistent
risk factor (539). With the projected increase in the number of elderly patients undergoing cardiac operations,
the incidence of postoperative AF is likely to increase. Postoperative AF is associated with stroke (540),
increased cost (541), and mortality (542). Beta blockers, nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, and
amiodarone are useful as treatments in patients with postoperative AF and may be initiated preoperatively in
some patients (4-7). Newer studies support this idea (385, 538).
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In a meta-analysis of patients undergoing coronary revascularization, those who received preoperative
statin therapy had less AF than those not treated with statins (385). No published data exist for patients
undergoing valvular or other heart surgery.
The COPPS (Colchicine for the Prevention of the Postpericardiotomy Syndrome) substudy examined
the efficacy and safety of colchicine for AF prevention (538). In this multicenter trial, patients were randomized
to colchicine with standard therapy or standard therapy alone. The primary endpoint was incidence of AF at 1
month postoperatively. Patients receiving colchicine had a reduced incidence of AF (12% versus 22% at 30 days
postoperatively). The colchicine group also had a shorter length of stay.

Table 15. Summary of Recommendations for Specific Patient Groups and AF
Recommendations COR LOE References
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Anticoagulation indicated in HCM with AF independent of the
CHA2DS2-VASc score I B (51, 451)
Antiarrhythmic drugs can be useful to prevent recurrent AF in
HCM. Amiodarone, or disopyramide combined with beta blockers
or nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist are reasonable
IIa C N/A
AF catheter ablation can be beneficial for HCM to facilitate a
rhythm-control strategy when antiarrhythmics fail or are not
tolerated
IIa B (452-455)
Sotalol, dofetilide, and dronedarone may be considered for a
rhythm-control strategy in HCM IIb C (12)
AF complicating ACS
Urgent cardioversion of new onset AF in setting of ACS is
recommended for patients with hemodynamic compromise, ongoing
ischemia, or inadequate rate control
I C N/A
IV beta blockers are recommended to slow RVR with ACS and no
HF, hemodynamic instability, or bronchospasm I C N/A
With ACS and AF with CHA2DS2-VASc (score ≥2), anticoagulation
with warfarin is recommended unless contraindicated I C N/A
Amiodarone or digoxin may be considered to slow a RVR with ACS
and AF, and severe LV dysfunction and HF or hemodynamic
instability
IIb C N/A
Nondihydropyridine calcium antagonists might be considered to
slow a RVR with ACS and AF only in the absence of significant HF
or hemodynamic instability
IIb C N/A
Hyperthyroidism
Beta blockers are recommended to control ventricular rate with AF
complicating thyrotoxicosis, unless contraindicated I C N/A
Nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist is recommended to
control the ventricular rate with AF and thyrotoxicosis when beta
blocker cannot be used
I C N/A
Pulmonary diseases
Nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist is recommended to
control the ventricular rate with COPD and AF I C N/A
Cardioversion should be attempted with pulmonary disease patients
who become hemodynamically unstable with new onset AF I C N/A
WPW and pre-excitation syndromes
Cardioversion recommended with AF, WPW, and RVR who are
hemodynamically compromised I C (64)
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IV procainamide or ibutilide to restore sinus rhythm or slow
ventricular rate recommended with pre-excited AF and RVR who
are not hemodynamically compromised
I C (64)
Catheter ablation of accessory pathway is recommended in
symptomatic patients with pre-excited AF, especially if the
accessory pathway has a short refractory period
I C (64)
IV amiodarone, adenosine, digoxin, or nondihydropyridine calcium
channel antagonists with WPW who have pre-excited AF is
potentially harmful
III: Harm B (487-489)
Heart failure
Beta blocker or nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist is
recommended for persistent or permanent AF in patients with
HFpEF
I B (262)
In the absence of pre-excitation, IV beta blocker (or a
nondihydropyridine calcium channel antagonist with HFpEF) is
recommended to slow ventricular response to AF in the acute
setting, exercising caution in patients with overt congestion,
hypotension or HFrEF
I B (496-499)
In the absence of pre-excitation, IV digoxin or amiodarone is
recommended to acutely control heart rate I B
(270, 497, 500,
501)
Assess heart rate during exercise and adjust pharmacological
treatment in symptomatic patients during activity I C N/A
Digoxin is effective to control resting heart rate with HFrEF I C N/A
Combination digoxin and beta blocker (or a nondihydropyridine
calcium channel antagonist with HFpEF), is reasonable to control
rest and exercise heart rate with AF
IIa B (260, 497)
Reasonable to perform AV node ablation with ventricular pacing to
control heart rate when pharmacological therapy insufficient or not
tolerated
IIa B (262, 502, 503)
IV amiodarone can be useful to control the heart rate with AF when
other measures are unsuccessful or contraindicated IIa C N/A
With AF and RVR, causing or suspected of causing tachycardia-
induced cardiomyopathy, it is reasonable to achieve rate control by
AV nodal blockade or rhythm control strategy
IIa B (52, 300, 504)
In chronic HF patients who remain symptomatic from AF despite a
rate-control strategy, it is reasonable to use a rhythm-control strategy IIa C N/A
Amiodarone may be considered when resting and exercise heart rate
cannot be controlled with a beta blocker (or a nondihydropyridine
calcium channel antagonist with HFpEF) or digoxin, alone or in
combination
IIb C N/A
AV node ablation may be considered when rate cannot be controlled
and tachycardia-mediated cardiomyopathy suspected IIb C N/A
AV node ablation should not be performed without a
pharmacological trial to control ventricular rate III: Harm C N/A
For rate control, IV nondihydropyridine calcium channel
antagonists, IV beta blockers and dronedarone should not be given
with decompensated HF
III: Harm C N/A
Familial (Genetic) AF
With AF and multigenerational AF family members, referral to a
tertiary care center for genetic counseling and testing may be
considered
IIb C N/A
Postoperative cardiac and thoracic surgery
Beta blocker is recommended to treat postoperative AF unless
contraindicated
I A (527-530)
A nondihydropyridine calcium channel blocker is recommended
when a beta blocker is inadequate to achieve rate control with
postoperative AF
I B (531)
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Preoperative amiodarone reduces AF with cardiac surgery and is
reasonable as prophylactic therapy for high risk of postoperative AF IIa A (532-534)
It is reasonable to restore sinus rhythm pharmacologically with
ibutilide or direct-current cardioversion with postoperative AF IIa B (535)
It is reasonable to administer antiarrhythmic medications to maintain
sinus rhythm with recurrent or refractory postoperative AF IIa B (531)
It is reasonable to administer antithrombotic medications for
postoperative AF IIa B (536)
It is reasonable to manage new-onset postoperative AF with rate
control and anticoagulation with cardioversion if AF does not revert
spontaneously to sinus rhythm during follow-up
IIa C N/A
Prophylactic sotalol may be considered for patients with AF risk
following cardiac surgery IIb B (530, 537)
Colchicine may be considered postoperatively to reduce AF
following cardiac surgery IIb B (538)
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COR, Class of
Recommendation; HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; HF, heart failure; HFpEF, heart failure with preserved ejection
fraction; HFrEF, heart failure with reduced ejection fraction; IV, intravenous; LOE, Level of Evidence; LV, left ventricular;
N/A, not applicable; RVR, rapid ventricular response; and WPW, Wolff-Parkinson-White.
8. Evidence Gaps and Future Research Directions
The past decade has seen substantial progress in the understanding of AF mechanisms, clinical implementation
of ablation for maintaining sinus rhythm, and new drugs for stroke prevention. Further studies are needed to
better inform clinicians as to the risks and benefits of therapeutic options for an individual patient. Continued
research is needed into the mechanisms that initiate and sustain AF. Better understanding of these tissue and
cellular mechanisms will, hopefully, lead to more defined approaches to treating and abolishing AF. This
includes new methodological approaches for AF ablation that would favorably impact survival,
thromboembolism, and quality of life across different patient profiles. New pharmacologic therapies are needed,
including antiarrhythmic drugs that have atrial selectivity and drugs that target fibrosis, which will hopefully
reach clinical evaluation. The successful introduction of new anticoagulants is encouraging, and further
investigations will better inform clinical practices for optimizing beneficial applications and minimizing the
risks of these agents, particularly in the elderly, in the presence of comorbidities and in the periprocedural
period. Further investigations must be performed to better understand the links between the presence of AF, AF
burden, and stroke risk, and also to better define the relationship between AF and dementia. The roles of
emerging surgical and procedural therapies to reduce stroke will be defined. Great promise lies in prevention.
Future strategies for reversing the growing epidemic of AF will come from basic science and genetic,
epidemiologic, and clinical studies.

Presidents and Staff
American College of Cardiology
John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, President
Shalom Jacobovitz, Chief Executive Officer
William J. Oetgen, MD, MBA, FACC, Executive Vice President, Science, Education, and Quality
Charlene May, Senior Director, Science and Clinical Policy
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American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association
Lisa Bradfield, CAE, Director, Science and Clinical Policy
Ezaldeen Ramadhan III, Project Management Team Leader, Science and Clinical Policy
Emily Cottrell, MA, Quality Assurance, Science and Clinical Policy

American Heart Association
Mariell Jessup, MD, FACC, FAHA, President
Nancy Brown, Chief Executive Officer
Rose Marie Robertson, MD, FAHA, Chief Science Officer
Gayle R. Whitman, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN, Senior Vice President, Office of Science Operations
Marco Di Buono, PhD, Vice President, Science, Research, and Professional Education
Jody Hundley, Production Manager, Scientific Publications, Office of Science Operations

Key Words: AHA Scientific Statements ■ atrial fibrillation ■ cardio-renal physiology/pathophysiology ■
cardiovascular surgery: transplantation, ventricular assistance, cardiomyopathy ■ epidemiology ■ full revision ■
health policy and outcome research ■ other atrial fibrillation.
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Appendix 1. Author Relationships With Industry and Other Entities (Relevant) 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management
of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation
Committee
Member
Employment Consultant Speaker s
Bureau
Ownership/
Partnership/
Principal
Personal
Research
Institutional,
Organizational,
or Other
Financial
Benefit
Expert
Witness
Voting
Recusals by
Section*
Craig T.
January
(Chair)
University of
Wisconsin-Madison
Professor of Medicine,
Cardiovascular
Medicine Division
None None None None None None None
L. Samuel
Wann (Vice
Chair)
Columbia St. Mary’s
Cardiovascular
Physicians Clinical
Cardiologist
• United
Healthcare
None None None None None 4.1
5.0
6.3
7.3
7.10
Joseph S.
Alpert
University of Arizona
Health Sciences
Center Professor of
Medicine
• Bayer
Pharmaceuticals
(DSMB)
• Boehringer
Ingelheim
• Daiichi-Sankyo
• Johnson &
Johnson
• Roche
Diagnostics
• Sanofi-aventis
• Servier
Pharmaceuticals
None None None None None 4.1
5.0
Hugh
Calkins

Johns Hopkins
Hospital Professor of
Medicine, Director of
Electrophysiology
• Atricure
• Biosense
Webster
• Carecore
• iRhythm
• Medtronic
• Sanofi-aventis
None None None None None 5.0
6.3
7.8

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Joaquin E.
Cigarroa
Oregon Health &
Science University
Clinical Professor;
Clinical Chief of
Cardiology
None None None None None None None
Joseph C.
Cleveland,
Jr
University of
Colorado Professor of
Surgery; Denver
Veteran’s
Administration
Hospital Chief,
Cardiac Surgery
None None None None None None None
Jamie B.
Conti
University of Florida
Professor of Medicine;
Division of
Cardiovascular
Medicine Chief
None None None • Boston
Scientific
• Medtronic
• St. Jude
Medical
• Boston
Scientific
• Medtronic
• St. Jude
Medical
None 5.0
6.3
7.8
Patrick T.
Ellinor

Massachusetts General
Hospital Heart Center,
Cardiac Arrhythmia
Service Director
None None None None None None None
Michael D.
Ezekowitz

Jefferson Medical
College Professor
• ARYx
Therapeutics
• AstraZeneca
• Boehringer
Ingelheim
• Bristol-Myers
Squibb
• Daiichi-
Sankyo
• Eisai
• Johnson &
Johnson
• Medtronic
• Pfizer
• Portola
• Sanofi-aventis
None None • ARYx
Therapeutics
• Boehringer
Ingelheim
• Daiichi-
Sankyo
• Portola
None None 4.1
5.0
6.3
7.8
Michael E.
Field
University of
Wisconsin School of
Medicine and Public
None None None None None None None

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Health Assistant
Professor of Medicine,
Director of Cardiac
Arrhythmia Service
Katherine T.
Murray
Vanderbilt University
School of Medicine,
Divisions of Clinical
Pharmacology and
Cardiology Professor
of Medicine
None None None • GlaxoSmith
Kline
None None None
Ralph L.
Sacco
University of Miami,
Miller School of
Medicine, Department
of Neurology
Chairman
• Boehringer
Ingelheim §

None None None None None None
William G.
Stevenson
Brigham & Women’s
Hospital, Cardiac
Arrhythmia Program
Director; Harvard
Medical School
Professor of Medicine
None None • Biosense
Webster
Needle
Ablation
Patent
• Biosense
Webster
None None 5.0
6.3
7.8
Patrick J.
Tchou

Cleveland Clinic
Foundation Section of
Cardiac
Electrophysiology and
Pacing, Department of
Cardiovascular
Medicine Heart and
Vascular Institute
None None None None None None None
Cynthia M.
Tracy

George Washington
University Medical
Center Associate
Director and Professor
of Medicine
None None None None None None None
Clyde W.
Yancy
Northwestern
University, Feinberg
School of Medicine
Magerstadt Professor of
Medicine; Division of
Cardiology Chief
None None None None None None None

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This table represents the relationships of committee members with industry and other entities that were determined to be relevant to this document. These
relationships were reviewed and updated in conjunction with all meetings and/or conference calls of the writing committee during the document development process.
The table does not necessarily reflect relationships with industry at the time of publication. A person is deemed to have a significant interest in a business if the
interest represents ownership of ≥5% of the voting stock or share of the business entity, or ownership of ≥$10,000 of the fair market value of the business entity; or if
funds received by the person from the business entity exceed 5% of the person s gross income for the previous year. Relationships that exist with no financial benefit
are also included for the purpose of transparency. Relationships in this table are modest unless otherwise noted.

According to the ACC/AHA, a person has a relevant relationship IF: a) The relationship or interest relates to the same or similar subject matter, intellectual property
or asset, topic, or issue addressed in the document; or b) The company/entity (with whom the relationship exists) makes a drug, drug class, or device addressed in the
document, or makes a competing drug or device addressed in the document; or c) The person or a member of the person s household , has a reasonable potential for
financial, professional or other personal gain or loss as a result of the issues/content addressed in the document.

*Writing committee members are required to recuse themselves from voting on sections to which their specific relationships with industry and other entities may
apply.

Indicates significant relationship.
No financial benefit.
§Dr. Sacco s relationship with Boehringer Ingelheim was added just after final balloting of the recommendations and prior to organizational review, so it was not
relevant during the writing or voting stages of the guideline s development.

ACC indicates American College of Cardiology; AHA, American Heart Association; DSMB, data safety monitoring board; and HRS, Heart Rhythm Society.



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Appendix 2. Reviewer Relationships With Industry and Other Entities (Relevant) 2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the
Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation
Reviewer Representation Employment Consultant Speaker s
Bureau
Ownership/
Partnership/
Principal
Personal
Research
Institutional,
Organizational,
or Other
Financial Benefit
Expert
Witness
A. John Camm

Official
Reviewer
HRS
St. George s, University
of London Professor of
Clinical Cardiology
• Bayer
• Biotronik
• Boehringer
Ingelheim
• Boston Scientific
• Bristol-Myers
Squibb
• ChanRx
• Daiichi-Sankyo
• Forest Laboratories
• Johnson & Johnson
• Medtronic
• Novartis*
• Sanofi-aventis
• Servier
• St. Jude Medical
• Takeda
• Xention
• Pfizer None • Biotronik
• Servier
(DSMB)
• St. Jude
Medical
(DSMB)
None None
John Fisher

Official
Reviewer
AHA
Albert Einstein College
of Medicine Professor
of Medicine

• Medtronic* None None None • Biotronik*
• Boston
Scientific*
• Medtronic*
• St. Jude
Medical*
None
Jonathan
Halperin
Official
Reviewer
ACC/AHA
Task Force on
Practice
Guidelines
Mt. Sinai Medical
Center Professor of
Medicine
• AstraZeneca
• Bayer
• Biotronik*
• Boehringer
Ingelheim*
• Boston Scientific
• Bristol-Myers
Squibb
• Daiichi-Sankyo
None None None None None

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• Janssen
Pharmaceuticals
• Johnson & Johnson
• Medtronic
• Pfizer
• Sanofi-aventis
Jose Joglar Official
Reviewer
AHA
UT Southwestern
Medical Center
Associate Professor of
Internal Medicine
None None None None • Medtronic*
• St. Jude
Medical*
None
Peter Kowey Official
Reviewer
HRS
Lankenau Medical
Office Building Chief
of Cardiology
• Astellas
• AstraZeneca*
• Boehringer
Ingelheim*
• Bristol-Myers
Squibb
• Daiichi-Sankyo*
• Forest Laboratories
• GlaxoSmithKline*
• Johnson & Johnson*
• Medtronic
• Merck*
• Pfizer*
• Portola
• Sanofi-aventis*
None • Cardionet* None None None
John Strobel

Official
Reviewer
ACC Board of
Governors
Premier Healthcare,
LLC Clinical Cardiac
Electrophysiologist;
Indiana University
Assistant Clinical
Professor of Medicine
None • Boehringer
Ingelheim
• Bristol-Myers
Squibb
• Pfizer
• Sanofi-
aventis
None None None • Plaintiff,
ICD, 2012
Stuart Winston Official
Reviewer
ACC Board of
Trustees
Michigan Heart, P. C.
Michigan Heart &
Vascular Institute
Cardiologist
None None None None • Biotronik
• Medtronic
None
James R.
Edgerton

Organizational
Reviewer STS
The Heart Hospital
Baylor Plano
Cardiologist; University
of Texas at Arlington
None • AtriCure* None None None None

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Adjunct Assistant
Clinical Professor
Jeffrey
Anderson
Content
Reviewer
ACC/AHA
Task Force on
Practice
Guidelines
Intermountain Medical
Center Associate Chief
of Cardiology
• The Medicines
Company
• Sanofi-aventis
None None None None None
Nancy Berg Content
Reviewer
ACC EP
Committee
Park Nicollet Health
Services Registered
Nurse
• Medtronic None None • Mayo Clinic

• Medtronic None
Emmanouil
Brilakis
Content
Reviewer
ACC
Interventional
Scientific
Council
UT Southwestern
Medical School
Director Cardiac
Catheterization
Laboratory, VA North
Texas Healthcare System
• Boston Scientific*
• Bridgepoint
Medical*
• Janssen
Pharmaceuticals
• Sanofi-aventis
• St. Jude Medical
None None None • Abbott
Vascular
• AstraZeneca
• Cordis*
• Daiichi-
Sankyo*
• Medtronic*
• The Medicines
Company*
None
Yong-Mei Cha

Content
Reviewer
AHA
Mayo Clinic, Division of
Cardiovascular
Diseases Professor of
Medicine
None None None None None None
Jafna Cox Content
Reviewer
ACC Board of
Governors
Queen Elizabeth II
Health Sciences
Center Professor,
Departments of
Medicine, Community
Health, and
Epidemiology
• AstraZeneca
• Bayer
• Boehringer
Ingelheim
None None • Bayer*
• Pfizer*
None None
Anne Curtis Content
Reviewer
University of Buffalo
Charles & Mary Bauer
Professor of Medicine
• Biosense Webster
• Bristol-Myers
Squibb
• Medtronic*
• Pfizer
• Sanofi-aventis
• St. Jude Medical
None None None None None

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2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Atrial Fibrillation Guideline

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Lesley Curtis

Content
Reviewer
ACC/AHA
Task Force on
Practice
Guidelines
Duke University School
of Medicine Associate
Professor of Medicine
None None None None • Medtronic*
• GE Healthcare*
• GlaxoSmithKlin
e*
• Johnson &
Johnson*
None
Kenneth
Ellenbogen
Content
Reviewer
VCU Medical Center
Director, Clinical EP
Laboratory
• Biosense Webster
• Biotronik*
• Boston Scientific*
• Cameron Health
• Janssen
Pharmaceuticals
• Medtronic*
• Sanofi-aventis
• St. Jude Medical
None None • Biosense
Webster*
• Boston
Scientific*
• Medtronic*
• Sanofi-
aventis*
• Biosense
Webster*
• Boston
Scientific*
• Cardionet
• Medtronic*
• Sanofi-aventis*
• St. Jude
Medical*
• Represent
ed
hospital,
ICD, 2012
N.A. Mark
Estes III
Content
Reviewer
Tufts University School
of Medicine Professor
of Medicine
• Boston Scientific*
• Medtronic
None None • Boston
Scientific
• Boston
Scientific*
• Medtronic*
• St. Jude
Medical*
None
Gregg
Fonarow
Content
Reviewer
Ahmanson UCLA
Cardiomyopathy Center,
Division of Cardiology
• Boston Scientific
• Johnson & Johnson
• The Medicines
Company
• Medtronic
None None • Novartis* • Medtronic None
Valentin Fuster

Content
Reviewer
Mount Sinai School of
Medicine Director,
Zena and Michael A.
Wiener Cardiovascular
Institute
None None None None None None
Richard
Goodman

Content
Reviewer
HHS
HHS Office of the
Assistant Secretary for
Health, and
National Center for
Chronic Disease
Prevention and Health
Promotion
Centers for Disease
Control and
None None None None None None

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Prevention Senior
Medical Advisor
Judith
Hochman
Content
Reviewer
ACC/AHA
Task Force on
Practice
Guidelines
New York University
School of Medicine
Clinical Chief of
Cardiology
• GlaxoSmithKline
• Janssen
Pharmaceuticals

None None None None None
Warren
Jackman
Content
Reviewer
University of Oklahoma
Health Sciences Center
for Cardiac Arrhythmia
Research Institute
Professor of Medicine
• Biosense Webster*
• Endosense*
• Vytronus*
• Biotronik*
• Boston
Scientific*
• Rhythmia
Medical*

• Boston
Scientific*
• Rhythmia
Medical*

None None
Samuel Jones

Content
Reviewer
ACC Board of
Governors
USUHS Associate
Professor of Medicine
None None None None • Medtronic
• St. Jude
Medical
None
Paulus
Kirchhof
Content
Reviewer
HRS
University of
Birmingham, School of
Clinical and
Experimental
Medicine Chair in
Cardiovascular Medicine
None None None • Sanofi-
aventis
(DSMB)
None None
Bradley Knight Content
Reviewer
Northwestern Medical
Center Division of
Cardiology Director of
Clinical Cardiac EP
• Boston Scientific
• Cameron Health

• Biosense
Webster
• Biotronik
• Boston
Scientific
• Medtronic
None • Catheter
Robotics

None • Plaintiff,
Pacemaker
surgery,
2012

Austin
Kutscher

Content
Reviewer
Hunterdon
Cardiovascular
Associates
Cardiologist
• Pfizer • Bristol-Myers
Squibb
• Forest
Laboratories
None • Boehringer
Ingelheim
• Bristol-Myers
Squibb
None None
Gregory
Michaud
Content
Reviewer
Harvard Medical School,
Brigham and Women s
Hospital Assistant
Professor
• Boston Scientific
• Medtronic
None None • Boston
Scientific*
• St. Jude
Medical*
None None
William Miles

Content
Reviewer
University of Florida,
Department of
Medicine Cardiologist
None None None • Medtronic
STOP-AF
(PI)
None None

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• Zoll Medical
Simone Musco

Content
Reviewer
ACC Board of
Governors
Saint Patrick Hospital
Cardiologist
None • Bristol-Myers
Squibb
• Sanofi-
aventis
None None None None
Brian
Olshansky
Content
Reviewer
ACC EP
Committee
University of Iowa
Hospital Professor of
Medicine
• Boehringer
Ingleheim
• Boston Scientific
• Guidant
• Medtronic*
• Sanofi-aventis
None None • Boston
Scientific
(DSMB)
• Sanofi-
aventis
(DSMB)
None None
Huseyin Murat
Ozdemir
Content
Reviewer
AIG
Gazi University School
of Medicine Professor
of Cardiology
• Bayer
• Boehringer
Ingelheim
• Bristol-Myers
Squibb
• Novartis
• Pfizer
• Servier
None None None None None
Douglas
Packer
Content
Reviewer
Mayo Foundation St.
Mary’s Hospital
Complex Professor of
Medicine
• Abiomed
• Biosense Webster
• Boston Scientific
• InfoBionic
• Johnson & Johnson
• Medtronic
• Janssen
Pharmaceuticals
• Sanofi-aventis
• Siemens
• St. Jude Medical
None None • Biosense
Webster*
• Boston
Scientific*
• CardioFocus
• Endosense*
• Hansen
Medical
• Medtronic*
• Siemens
• St. Jude
Medical*
• Thermedical*
• St. Jude
Medical*
None
Richard Page Content
Reviewer
University of Wisconsin
Hospital & Clinics
Chair, Department of
Medicine
None None None None None None

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Robert Page

Content
Reviewer
AHA PharmD
University of Colorado
School of Pharmacy
Associate Professor
None None None None None None
Gurusher
Panjrath
Content
Reviewer
ACC Heart
Failure and
Transplant
Council
George Washington
University Assistant
Professor of Medicine
None None None None None None
Eric
Prystowsky
Content
Reviewer
HRS
St. Vincent Hospital and
Health Center Director,
Clinical EP Laboratory
• Bard*
• Medtronic*
None • CardioNet*
• Topera*
• Stereotaxis*
None • CardioNet*
• Stereotaxis*

None
Pasala
Ravichandran
Content
Reviewer
ACC Surgeons
Council
Oregon Health &
Science University
Associate Professor
None None None None None None
Anitra Romfh

Content
Reviewer
ACC Adult
Congenital and
Pediatric
Cardiology
Children’s Hospital
Boston Cardiologist
None None None None None None
Elizabeth
Saarel
Content
Reviewer
ACC Adult
Congenital and
Pediatric
Cardiology
University of Utah
School of Medicine and
Primary Children·s
Medical Center
Associate Professor
None None None None None None
Marcel Salive

Content
Reviewer
HHS
National Institute on
Aging, Division of
Geriatrics and Clinical
Gerontology
None None • Express
Scripts*
None None None
John Sapp Content
Reviewer
HRS
Dalhousie University
Director of EP
• Biosense Webster None None • Biosense
Webster*
• St. Jude
Medical*
None None
Frank Sellke

Content
Reviewer
ACC/AHA
Task Force on
Cardiovascular Institute,
Rhode Island Hospital
Lifespan s Chief of
Cardiothoracic Surgery
None None None None • The Medicines
Company

None

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W
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C
O
N
S
I
N

M
A
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Practice
Guidelines
Win-Kuang
Shen
Content
Reviewer
ACC/AHA
Task Force on
Practice
Guidelines
Mayo Clinic Arizona
Professor of Medicine,
Consultant
None None None None None None
David J.
Slotwiner

Content
Reviewer
Long Island Jewish
Medical Center
Association Director, EP
Laboratory
None None None None • Boston
Scientific
None
Jonathan
Steinberg
Content
Reviewer
Valley Health System
Arrhythmia Institute
Director; Columbia
University College of
Physicians &
Surgeons Professor of
Medicine
• Ambucor
• Biosense Webster
• Boston Scientific
• Medtronic
• Bristol-Myers
Squibb*
• Sanofi-
aventis
None • Biosense
Webster*
• Janssen
Pharmaceutic
als
• Medtronic*
None None
Vinod
Thourani
Content
Reviewer
ACC Surgeons
Council
Emory University
School of Medicine
Associate Professor of
Cardiothoracic Surgery

• Edwards
Lifesciences
• Sorin
• St. Jude Medical
None • Apica
Cardiovascula
r
• Maquet None None
Mellanie True
Hills
Content
Reviewer
Patient
Advocate
StopAfib.org Speaker
and Chief Executive
Officer
• AtriCure None None None • Bayer*
• Boehringer
Ingelheim*
• Janssen
Pharmaceuticals
*
• Johnson &
Johnson*
• Medtronic
• Sanofi-aventis*
None
Albert Waldo

Content
Reviewer
HRS
Case Western Reserve
University The Walter
H. Pritchard Professor of
Cardiology, Professor of
Medicine, and Professor
• Abbott Vascular
• AtriCure
• Biosense Webster
• Biotronik
• Daiichi-Sankyo
• Gilead
• Janssen
Pharmaceutic
als*
• Sanofi-
aventis*
None • Biotronik
• Daiichi-
Sankyo
• Gilead*
• St. Jude
Medical*
None None

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of Biomedical
Engineering
• Janssen
Pharmaceuticals*
• Merck
• Pfizer
• Sanofi-aventis
This table represents the relationships of reviewers with industry and other entities that were disclosed at the time of peer review and determined to be relevant to this
document. It does not necessarily reflect relationships with industry at the time of publication. A person is deemed to have a significant interest in a business if the interest
represents ownership of ≥5% of the voting stock or share of the business entity, or ownership of ≥$10 000 of the fair market value of the business entity; or if funds
received by the person from the business entity exceed 5% of the person s gross income for the previous year. A relationship is considered to be modest if it is less than
significant under the preceding definition. Relationships that exist with no financial benefit are also included for the purpose of transparency. Relationships in this table are
modest unless otherwise noted. Names are listed in alphabetical order within each category of review.

According to the ACC/AHA, a person has a relevant relationship IF: a) The relationship or interest relates to the same or similar subject matter, intellectual property or
asset, topic, or issue addressed in the document; or b) The company/entity (with whom the relationship exists) makes a drug, drug class, or device addressed in the
document, or makes a competing drug or device addressed in the document; or c) The person or a member of the person s household , has a reasonable potential for
financial, professional or other personal gain or loss as a result of the issues/content addressed in the document.

*Significant relationship
No financial benefit

ACC indicates American College of Cardiology; AHA, American Heart Association; AIG, Association of International Governors; DSMB, data safety monitoring board;
EP, electrophysiology; HF, heart failure; HHS, Health and Human Services; HRS, Heart Rhythm Society; ICD, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator; PharmD, doctor of
pharmacy; PI, principal investigator; STS, Society of Thoracic Surgeons; UCLA, University of California, Los Angeles; USUHS, Uniformed Services University of the
Health Sciences; UT, University of Texas; VA, Veterans Affairs; and VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University.



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Appendix 3. Abbreviations

ACE = angiotensin-converting enzyme
ACS = acute coronary syndrome
AF = atrial fibrillation
ARB = angiotensin-receptor blocker
AV = atrioventricular
CAD = coronary artery disease
CKD = chronic kidney disease
CrCl = creatinine clearance
ECG = electrocardiogram
EF = ejection fraction
GDMT = guideline-directed medical therapy
HCM = hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
HF = heart failure
HFpEF = heart failure with preserved ejection fraction
INR = international normalized ratio
LA = left atrium
LAA = left atrial appendage
LMWH = low-molecular-weight heparin
LV = left ventricular
LVEF = left ventricular ejection fraction
RCT = randomized controlled trial
RV= right ventricular
TEE = transesophageal echocardiography
TIA = transient ischemic attack
TTR = times in therapeutic range
UFH = unfractionated herparin
WPW = Wolff-Parkinson-White

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Appendix 4. Initial Clinical Evaluation in Patients With AF
Minimum Evaluation
1. History and physical examination, to
define
• Presence and nature of symptoms associated with AF
• Clinical type of AF (paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent)
• Onset of the first symptomatic attack or date of discovery of AF
• Frequency, duration, precipitating factors, and modes of initiation or
termination of AF
• Response to any pharmacological agents that have been administered
• Presence of any underlying heart disease or reversible conditions (e.g.,
hyperthyroidism or alcohol consumption)
2. ECG, to identify
• Rhythm (verify AF)
• LVH
• P-wave duration and morphology or fibrillatory waves
• Pre-excitation
• Bundle-branch block
• Prior MI
• Other atrial arrhythmias
• To measure and follow the R-R, QRS, and QT intervals in conjunction
with antiarrhythmic drug therapy
3. TTE, to identify
• VHD
• LA and RA size
• LV and RV size and function
• Peak RV pressure (pulmonary hypertension)
• LV hypertrophy
• LA thrombus (low sensitivity)
• Pericardial disease
4. Blood tests of thyroid, renal, and
hepatic function
• For a first episode of AF
• When the ventricular rate is difficult to control
Additional Testing (1 or several tests may be necessary)
1. 6-min walk test • If the adequacy of rate control is in question
2. Exercise testing
• If the adequacy of rate control is in question
• To reproduce exercise-induced AF
• To exclude ischemia before treatment of selected patients with a type IC*
antiarrhythmic drug
3. Holter or event monitoring • If diagnosis of the type of arrhythmia is in question
• As a means of evaluating rate control
4. TEE
• To identify LA thrombus (in the LAA)
• To guide cardioversion
5. Electrophysiological study
• To clarify the mechanism of wide-QRS-complex tachycardia
• To identify a predisposing arrhythmia such as atrial flutter or paroxysmal
supraventricular tachycardia
• To seek sites for curative AF ablation or AV conduction
block/modification
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6. Chest radiograph, to evaluate
• Lung parenchyma, when clinical findings suggest an abnormality
• Pulmonary vasculature, when clinical findings suggest an abnormality
*Type IC refers to the Vaughan-Williams classification of antiarrhythmic drugs.

AF indicates atrial fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; ECG, electrocardiogram; LA, left atrial; LAA, left atrial appendage;
LV, left ventricular; LVH, left ventricular hypertrophy; MI, myocardial infarction; RA, right atrial; RV, right ventricular;
TEE, transesophageal echocardiography; TTE, transthoracic echocardiogram; and VHD, valvular heart disease.
Modified from Fuster, et al. (4-7).

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arrhythmias after cardiac surgery. Circulation. 1999;100:369-75.
536. Al-Khatib SM, Hafley G, Harrington RA, et al. Patterns of management of atrial fibrillation complicating coronary
artery bypass grafting: Results from the PRoject of Ex-vivo Vein graft ENgineering via Transfection IV
(PREVENT-IV) Trial. Am Heart J. 2009;158:792-8.
537. Shepherd J, Jones J, Frampton GK, et al. Intravenous magnesium sulphate and sotalol for prevention of atrial
fibrillation after coronary artery bypass surgery: a systematic review and economic evaluation. Health Technol
Assess. 2008;12:iii-95.
538. Imazio M, Brucato A, Ferrazzi P, et al. Colchicine reduces postoperative atrial fibrillation: results of the
Colchicine for the Prevention of the Postpericardiotomy Syndrome (COPPS) atrial fibrillation substudy.
Circulation. 2011;124:2290-5.
539. Echahidi N, Pibarot P, O’Hara G, et al. Mechanisms, prevention, and treatment of atrial fibrillation after cardiac
surgery. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008;51:793-801.
540. Mathew JP, Parks R, Savino JS, et al. Atrial fibrillation following coronary artery bypass graft surgery: predictors,
outcomes, and resource utilization. MultiCenter Study of Perioperative Ischemia Research Group. JAMA.
1996;276:300-6.
541. Aranki SF, Shaw DP, Adams DH, et al. Predictors of atrial fibrillation after coronary artery surgery. Current trends
and impact on hospital resources. Circulation. 1996;94:390-7.
542. Almassi GH, Schowalter T, Nicolosi AC, et al. Atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery: a major morbid event? Ann
Surg. 1997;226:501-11.

at UNIV OF WISCONSIN MADISON on April 1, 2014http://circ.ahajournals.org/Downloaded from

January, CT et al.
2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Atrial Fibrillation Guideline

Page 123 of 123

at UNIV OF WISCONSIN MADISON on April 1, 2014http://circ.ahajournals.org/Downloaded from

2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation—ONLINE AUTHOR LISTING OF
COMPREHENSIVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH INDUSTRY AND OTHERS (April 2012)

Committee
Member
Employment Consultant Speaker’s
Bureau
Ownership/
Partnership/
Principal
Personal
Research
Institutional,
Organizational, or
Other Financial
Benefit
Expert Witness
Craig T.
January (Chair)
University of
Wisconsin-Madison—
Professor of Medicine,
Cardiovascular
Medicine Division
None None
• Cellular
Dynamics
International
*
None None None
L. Samuel
Wann (Vice
Chair)
Columbia St. Mary's
Cardiovascular
Physicians—Clinical
Cardiologist
• United Healthcare None None None None None
Joseph S.
Alpert
University of Arizona
Health Sciences
Center—Professor of
Medicine
• Bayer Pharmaceuticals
(DSMB)†
• Boehringer Ingelheim
• Daiichi-Sankyo
• Duke Clinical Research
Institute (DSMB)
• Janssen
Pharmaceuticals
(DSMB)
• Exeter CME
• Johnson & Johnson
• MedIQ
• NACCME—CME Co.
• Omnia Education
• Provera Education Co.
• Roche Diagnostics
• Sanofi-aventis
• Servier
Pharmaceuticals
None None None None
• Plaintiff,
Accidental
death-IHD,
2011
Hugh Calkins

Johns Hopkins
Hospital—Professor of
Medicine, Director of
Electrophysiology
• Atricure
• Biosense Webster
• Carecore
• Endosense
• iRhythm
• Medtronic*
• Sanofi-aventis
None None None None
• Defendant,
Syncope, 2011
• Defendant,
SCD, 2012
Joaquin E.
Cigarroa
Oregon Health &
Science University—
Clinical Professor;
Clinical Chief of
Cardiology
• Edwards Lifesciences None None None • Bracco Diagnostics,
IOP-118 (Co-PI)
• Oregon Health &
Science University†
• GE Healthcare, GE-
• Defendant,
Coronary
artery disease
review, 2011

145-002 (Co-PI)
• GE Healthcare,
VSCAN (Co-PI)
• Genentech,
MLDL1278A (Co-
PI)
• GlaxoSmithKline—
SOLID-TIMI52 (Co-
PI)
• Harvard Clinical
Research Institute—
DAPT (Co-PI)
• Hoffman LaRoche—
ALECARDIO (Co-
PI)
• Osiris
Therapeutics—
Prochymal (Co-PI)
Joseph C.
Cleveland
University of
Colorado—Professor
of Surgery; Denver
Veteran's
Administration
Hospital—Chief,
Cardiac Surgery
• Baxter Biosurgery
• Center for Personalized
Education for
Physicians
• Sorin
None None
• Heartware Corp. None None
Jamie B. Conti University of
Florida—Professor of
Medicine; Division of
Cardiovascular
Medicine—Chief
None None None
• Boston
Scientific*
• Medtronic*
• St. Jude
Medical*

• Boston Scientific*
• Medtronic*
• St. Jude Medical*

None
Patrick T.
Ellinor

Massachusetts General
Hospital Heart Center,
Cardiac Arrhythmia
Service—Director
None None None
• NIH None None
Michael D.
Ezekowitz

Jefferson Medical
College— Professor
• ARYx Therapeutics*
• AstraZeneca
• Boehringer Ingelheim*
• Bristol-Myers Squibb*
• Daiichi-Sankyo*
• Eisai
• Gilead*
• Janssen Scientific
Affairs*
• Johnson & Johnson*
• Medtronic*
• Merck*
None None
• ARYx
Therapeutics*
• Boehringer
Ingelheim*
• Daiichi-Sankyo†
• Portola†

None None

• Pfizer*
• Portola*
• Pozen
• Sanofi-aventis*
Michael E.
Field
University of
Wisconsin School of
Medicine and Public
Health—Assistant
Professor of Medicine,
Director of Cardiac
Arrhythmia Service
None None None None None None
Katherine T.
Murray
Vanderbilt University
School of Medicine,
Divisions of Clinical
Pharmacology and
Cardiology—
Professor of Medicine
• Medtronic None None • GlaxoSmithKlei
ne†
• Merck
• NIH*
None
• Defendant,
Causation for
SCD, 2011
• Defendant,
Causation for
atrial
fibrillation,
2012
Ralph L. Sacco University of Miami,
Miller School of
Medicine, Department
of Neurology—
Chairman
• Boehringer
Ingelheim†‡

None None
• NIH
• DCRI (DSMB)

• AHA† None
William G.
Stevenson
Brigham & Women's
Hospital, Cardiac
Arrhythmia
Program—Director;
Harvard Medical
School—Professor of
Medicine
None None
• Biosense
Webster†—
Needle
Ablation
Patent
• Biosense
Webster†
• NIH
• CIHR
• Circulation—
Arrhythmia and EP
(Editor)*
• Gynecologic Cancer
Intergroup
None
Patrick J.
Tchou

Cleveland Clinic
Foundation—Section
of Cardiac
Electrophysiology and
Pacing, Department of
Cardiovascular
Medicine Heart and
Vascular Institute
None None None None
• Medtronic
• St. Jude Medical†

• Defendant,
Appropriatene
ss of syncope
evaluation,
2011
Cynthia M.
Tracy

George Washington
University Medical
Center—Associate
Director and Professor
of Medicine
None None None
• NIH • Cheney
Cardiovascular
Institute—Board of
Trustees†
None
Clyde W.
Yancy
Northwestern
University, Feinberg
School of Medicine—
Magerstadt Professor
None None None None
• Patient Centered
Outcomes Research
Institute†
None

of Medicine; Division
of Cardiology—Chief
This table represents all relationships of committee members with industry and other entities that were reported by authors, including those not deemed to be relevant to this
document, at the time this document was under development. The table does not necessarily reflect relationships with industry at the time of publication. A person is deemed
to have a significant interest in a business if the interest represents ownership of ≥5% of the voting stock or share of the business entity, or ownership of ≥$10,000 of the fair
market value of the business entity; or if funds received by the person from the business entity exceed 5% of the person’s gross income for the previous year. Relationships
that exist with no financial benefit are also included for the purpose of transparency. Relationships in this table are modest unless otherwise noted.

*Indicates significant relationship.
†No financial benefit.
‡Dr. Sacco’s relationship with Boehringer Ingelheim was added just after final balloting of the recommendations and prior to organizational review, so it was not relevant during
the writing or voting stages of the guideline’s development.

AHA indicates American Heart Association; CIHR, Canadian Institutes for Health Research; CME, continuing medical education; DSMB, Data Safety Monitoring Board; IHD,
ischemic heart disease; and PI, principal investigator; and SCD, sudden cardiac death.




© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 1

2014 AHA/ACC/HRS Atrial Fibrillation Guideline Data Supplements
(Section numbers correspond to the full-text guideline.)

Table of Contents
Data Supplement 1. Electrophysiologic Mechanisms in the Initiation and Maintenance of AF (Section 2) ............................ 2
Data Supplement 2. Pathophysiologic Mechanisms Generating the AF Substrate (Section 2) ................................................ 2
Data Supplement 3. Oral Anticoagulants (Dabigatran, Rivaroxaban, Apixaban) vs. Warfarin (Section 4.2.2) ....................... 3
Data Supplement 4. Warfarin vs. Control (Section 4.2) ........................................................................................................... 6
Data Supplement 5. Warfarin vs. Antiplatelet Therapy (Section 4.2) ....................................................................................... 7
Data Supplement 6. Beta Blockers (Sections 5.1.1) ................................................................................................................. 9
Data Supplement 7. Nondihydropyridine Calcium Channel Blockers (Sections 5.1.2) .......................................................... 10
Data Supplement 8. Digoxin (Sections 5.1.3) ......................................................................................................................... 11
Data Supplement 9. Other Pharmacological Agents for Rate Control (Sections 5.1.4) .......................................................... 12
Data Supplement 10. AV Junction Ablation (Sections 5.2) .................................................................................................... 13
Data Supplement 11. Broad Considerations in Rate Control (Sections 5.3.1) ........................................................................ 13
Data Supplement 12. Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy (Section 6.2.1) ...................................................................................... 14
Data Supplement 13. Outpatient Initiation of Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy (Section 6.2.1.2) ............................................. 24
Data Supplement 14. Upsteam Therapy (Section 6.2.2) ......................................................................................................... 25
Data Supplement 15. AF Catheter Ablation to Maintain Sinus Rhythm (Section 6.3) ........................................................... 27
Data Supplement 16. Meta-Analyses and Surveys of AF Catheter Ablation (Section 6.3) .................................................... 30
Data Supplement 17. Specific Patient Groups (Section 7) ...................................................................................................... 31
References ............................................................................................................................................................................... 37


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 2


Data Supplement 1. Electrophysiologic Mechanisms in the Initiation and Maintenance of AF (Section 2)
Mechanism References
Experimental Human
Multiple wavelet hypothesis (1-3) (4-8)
ξ Heterogeneity in atrial electrophysiology (3, 9) (10-13)
Focal firing (14-17) (18-21)
ξ Pulmonary vein foci
o Electrophysiology (16, 22-28) (29, 30)
o Evidence for reentry (24, 31-33) (30, 34-36)
o Evidence for focal firing (32) (35)
ξ Nonpulmonary vein foci (17) (19, 21, 37-42)
Rotor with fibrillatory conduction (9, 31-33, 43-46) (34-36, 47-50)
ξ Dominant frequency gradients (9, 32, 43, 46, 51) (34, 49-52)
AF indicates atrial fibrillation.


Data Supplement 2. Pathophysiologic Mechanisms Generating the AF Substrate (Section 2)
Mechanism References
Experimental Human
Atrial structural abnormalities (9, 53-55) (56-62)
ξ Fibrosis (63-70) (55, 56, 62, 63, 71-73)
ξ Noninvasive imaging of fibrosis (74, 75) (76-79)
Inflammation/oxidative stress (80-83) (59, 80, 82-88)
ξ Steroids (89-91) N/A
ξ Statins (92-94) N/A
ξ Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (95-100) (96, 101-103)
Renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system activation (104-114) (72, 115, 116)
ξ Aldosterone (117, 118) (119-121)
ξ Transforming growth factor- Ε1 (68, 122, 123) N/A
Autonomic nervous system (3, 14-16, 27, 124-126) (127-129)
Genetic variants See Section 7.10
Atrial tachycardia remodeling
ξ Electrophysiologic (9, 130-136) (137, 138)
ξ Structural (53, 132, 139-142) N/A
ξ Intracellular calcium (143-145) (145-148)
Extracardiac factors See Section 2.2
AF indicates atrial fibrillation.



© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 3

Data Supplement 3. Oral Anticoagulants (Dabigatran, Rivaroxaban, Apixaban) vs. Warfarin (Section 4.2.2)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study
Type/Size
(N)
Intervention vs.
Comparator (n)
Patient Population Study
Intervention
Endpoints P Values,
OR: HR: RR:
& 95% CI:
Adverse
Events
Study
Limitations
Inclusion
Criteria
Exclusion
Criteria
Primary
Endpoint &
Results
Safety
Endpoint &
Results
Secondary
Endpoint
& Results

RE-LY
Randomized
Connolly SJ,
et al., 2009
(149)
19717844
To compare 2
fixed doses of
dabigatran with
open-label use
of warfarin in
pts with AF at
increased risk
of stroke
RCT, open-
label,
blinded
doses of
dabigatran
(18,113)
Dabigatran 110
mg (6,015)

Dabigatran
150 mg (6,076)

Warfarin
(6,021)
AF and •1
of the
following:
prior stroke
or TIA;
LVEF<40%
, NYHA
class II or
higher HF
Sx, age
•75 y or an
age of 65-
74 y plus
DM, HTN,
or CAD

Mean
CHADS2 of
2.1
Severe
heart-valve
disorder,
stroke
within 14 d
or severe
stroke
within 6
mo,
condition
that
increased
hemorrhag
e risk, CrCl
<20
mL/min,
active liver
disease,
pregnancy
Dabigatran
in 2 fixed
doses – oral
prodrug,
direct
competitive
inhibitor of
thrombin

Warfarin
INR 2-3,
mean TTR
64%
Stroke or SE

Dabigatran1
10 mg
1.53%/y

Dabigatran
150 mg
1.11%/y

Warfarin
1.69%/y

Major
Hemorrhage


Dabigatran
110 mg
2.71%/y

Dabigatran
150 mg
3.11%/y

Warfarin
3.36%/y

Intracranial
Bleeding





Dabigatran
110 mg
0.23%/y

Dabigatran
150 mg
0.30%/y

Warfarin
0.74%/y
Major GI

Stroke



Dabigatran
110 mg
1.44%/y

Dabigatran
150 mg
1.01%/y

Warfarin
1.57%/y

Stroke, ST
elevation,
PE, MI,
death, or
major
bleeding

Dabigatran
110 mg
7.09%/y

Dabigatran
150 mg
6.91%/y

Warfarin
7.64%/y

Dabigatran
110 mg
RR: 0.91;
95% CI: 0.74-
1.11; p<0.001
for
noninferiority,
p=0.34 for
superiority

Dabigatran
150 mg
RR: 0.66;
95% CI: 0.53-
0.83; p<0.001
for
noninferiority,
p<0.001 for
superiority

Dyspepsia


Open-label

Median
duration of
FU 2 y


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 4

Dabigatran
110 mg
1.12%/y

Dabigatran
150 mg
1.51%/y

Warfarin
1.02%/y
ROCKET-AF
Patel MR, et
al., 2011
(150)
21830957
To compare
QD oral
rivaroxaban
with dose-
adjusted
warfarin for the
prevention of
stroke and SE
in pts with
NVAF who
were at
moderate to
high risk of
stroke
RCT,
double-
dummy,
double-
blinded
(14,264)
Rivaroxaban
(7,131)

Warfarin
(7,133)
NVAF at
moderate
to high risk
of stroke:
Hx of
stroke, TIA,
or SE or •2
of the
following
(HF or
LVEF<35%
, HTN, age
>75 y, DM
(CHADS2
score of•2)

Mean
CHADS2
score of 3.5
Severe
valvular
disease,
transient
AF caused
by a
reversible
disorder,
hemorrhag
e risk
related
criteria;
severe,
disabling
stroke
within 3 mo
or any
stroke
within
14 d, TIA
within 3 d;
indication
for
anticoagula
nt Tx
Rivaroxaban
Factor Xa
inhibitor, 20
mg QD or 15
mg QD for
those with
CrCl of 39-
40 mL/min

Warfarin
INR 2-3,
mean TTR
55%

Any stroke
or SE

Per-protocol
as treated
Rivaroxaban
1.7%/y
Warfarin
2.2%/y

Intention to
Treat
Rivaroxaban
2.1%/y
Warfarin
2.4%/y


Major and
non-major
clinically
relevant
bleeding

Rivaroxaban
14.9/100 pt-
years

Warfarin
14.5/100 pt-
years

ICH
Rivaroxaban
0.5/100 pt-
years
Warfarin
0.7/100 pt-
years

Major GI
Rivaroxaban
3.15%
Warfarin
2.16%
Stroke, SE,
or VD

Rivaroxaba
n
3.11/100
pt-years

Warfarin
3.64/100
pt-years

HR: 0.86;
95% CI:
0.74-0.99;
p=0.034
Per-Protocol,
as treated
HR: 0.79;
95% CI: 0.66-
0.96;
p<0.001 for
noninferiority

Intention to
treat
HR: 0.88;
95% CI: 0.75-
1.03;
p<0.001 for
noninferiority
p=0.12 for
superiority



N/A Median
duration of
follow-up
was 707 d

Lower TTR
in warfarin
group

1° analysis
was
prespecified
as a per-
protocol
analysis

High-event
rate after
discontinuati
on of Tx


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 5

ARISTOTLE
Granger CB,
et al., 2011
(151)
21870978

To determine
whether
apixaban was
noninferior to
warfarin in
reducing the
rate of stroke
(ischemic or
hemorrhagic)
or SE among
pts with AF and
•1 other risk
factor for
stroke
RCT,
double-
dummy,
double-
blinded
(18,201)
Apixaban
(9,120)

Warfarin
(9,081)
AF and •1
stroke risk
factor (age
>75 y;
previous
stroke, TIA
or SE;
symptomati
c HF within
the prior 3
mo or
LVEF”40%
; DM; or
HTN)

Mean
CHADS2
score of 2.1
AF due to a
reversible
cause,
moderate
or severe
mitral
stenosis,
conditions
other than
AF
requiring
OAC,
stroke
within the
prior 7 d, a
need for
ASA>165
mg or for
ASA and
CP, or
severe
renal
insufficienc
y (CrCl<25
mL/min)
Apixaban
Factor Xa
inhibitor
5 mg BID or
2.5 mg BID
among pts
ZLWK�•��RI�
the following
�•���\��ERG\�
weight ”60
kg, or serum
Cr level of
•����PJ�G/�

Warfarin
INR 2-3
Mean TTR
62.2%
Any stroke
or SE

Apixaban
1.27%/y

Warfarin
1.6%/y
Major
Bleeding

Apixaban
2.13%/y
Warfarin
3.09%/y

ICH
Apixaban
0.33%/y
Warfarin
0.80%/y

Major GI
Apixaban
0.76%/y
Warfarin
0.86%/y
Stroke, SE,
major
bleeding, or
death from
any cause

Apixaban
6.13%/y
Warfarin
7.20%/y
HR: 0.79;
95% CI: 0.66-
0.95; p<0.001
for
noninferiority,
p=0.01 for
superiority

HR: 0.85;
95% CI: 0.78-
0.92; p<0.001
No
difference
s
Median
duration of
FU 1.8 y
AVERROES
Connolly SJ,
et al., 2011
(152)
21309657


To determine
the efficacy
and safety of
apixaban, at a
dose of
5 mg BID, as
compared with
ASA, at a dose
of 81-324 mg
QD, for the Tx
of
pts with AF for
whom VKA Tx
was
considered
unsuitable
RCT
double-
blind,
double-
dummy
(5,559)
Apixaban
(2,808)

ASA
(2,791)

•50 y and
AF and •�
of the
following
stroke risk
factors:
prior stroke
or TIA, •75
y, HTN,
DM, HF,
LVEF”���
, or PAD.
Pts could
not be
receiving
VKAs
Pts
required
long-term
anticoagula
tion,
VD
requiring
surgery, a
serious
bleeding
event in the
previous 6
mo or
a high-risk
bleeding,
stroke
Apixaban
Factor Xa
inhibitor
5 mg BID or
2.5 mg BID
among pts
with •2 of
the following
(age ”80 y,
body weight
”60 kg, or
serum Cr
level of •1.5
mg/dL)

ASA
Any stroke
or SE

Apixaban
1.6%/y

ASA
3.7%/y

p<0.001
Major
Bleeding

Apixaban
1.4%
ASA
1.2%

Intracranial
Bleeding
Apixaban
0.4%
ASA
0.4%

Major GI
Stroke, SE,
MI, VD or
major
bleeding
event

Apixaban
5.3%/y
ASA
7.2%/y
HR: 0.74;
95% CI:
0.60–0.90;
p<0.003
HR: 0.45;
95% CI: 0.32-
0.62;
p<0.001
No
difference
s
N/A


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 6

because it
had already
been
demonstrat
ed to be
unsuitable
or because
it was
expected to
be
unsuitable.

Mean
CHADS2 of
2.0
within the
previous 10
d, severe
renal
insufficienc
y (a
sCr>2.5
mg/dL) or
a
calculated
CrCl<25
mL/min
81-325
mg/dL
Apixaban
0.4%
ASA
0.4%

1° indicates primary; AF, atrial fibrillation; ARISTOTLE, Apixaban for Reduction in Stroke and Other Thromboembolic Events in AF; ASA, aspirin; AVERROES, Apixaban Versus Acetylsalicylic Acid to
Prevent Stroke in Atrial Fibrillation Patients Who Have Failed or Are Unsuitable for Vitamin K Antagonist Treatment; BID, twice daily; CAD, coronary artery disease; CHADS2, Congestive heart failure,
Hypertension, Age 75 years, Diabetes mellitus, Stroke; ; CP, codeine phosphate; Cr, creatinine; CrCl, creatinine clearance; DM, diabetes mellitus; FU, follow-up; GI, gastrointestinal; HF, heart failure; HR,
hazard ratio; HTN, hypertension; Hx, history; ICH, intracranial hemorrhage; INR, international normalized ratio; LVEF, left ventricular ejection fraction; MI, myocardial infarction; N/A, not applicable; PAD,
peripheral arterial disease; PE, pulmonary embolism; N/A, not applicable; NVAF, nonvalvular atrial fibrillation; NYHA, New York Heart Association; OAC, oral anticoagulation; pts, patient; QD, once daily;
RCT, randomized controlled trial; RE-LY, Randomized Evaluation of Long-Term Anticoagulation Therapy; ROCKET-AF, Rivaroxaban Once Daily Oral Direct Factor Xa Inhibitor Compared with Vitamin K
Antagonism for Prevention of Stroke and Embolism Trial; RR, relative risk; sCr, serum creatinine; SE, systemic embolism; Sx, symptom; TIA, transient ischemic attack; TTR, time in therapeutic range; Tx,
therapy; VD, valvular disease; and VKA, vitamin K antagonist.

Data Supplement 4. Warfarin vs. Control (Section 4.2)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention
vs.
Comparator (n)
Patient Population Study
Intervention
Endpoints P Values,
OR: HR: RR: &
95% CI:
Inclusion
Criteria
Exclusion
Criteria
Primary
Endpoint &
Results
Safety
Endpoint &
Results
Secondary
Endpoint &
Results

Aguilar MI, et
al., 2005
(153)
16034869

To characterize
the efficacy and
safety of oral
anticoagulants
for the 1°
prevention of
stroke in pts
with chronic AF
Cochrane
Collaboration
Systematic
Review
(AFASAK I,
BAATAF,
CAFA, SPAF I,
SPINAF)
2,313 pts

Warfarin 1,154
PC 1,159
AF
(intermittent
or
sustained)
Prior stroke
or TIA, mitral
stenosis or
prosthetic
cardiac
valves
Oral VKAs
(warfarin)
mean INR 2.0-
2.6
All Stroke
(ischemic or
ICH)

Warfarin 27
PC 71


ICH, Major
extracranial
bleeds

ICH, Warfarin 5,
PC 2

Extracranial
bleeds, Warfarin
Stroke, MI or
VD

Warfarin 69
PC 118
All ischemic stroke
or ICH
OR: 0.39; 95% CI:
0.26-0.59

Ischemic stroke
OR: 0.34; 95% CI:
0.23-0.52



© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 7

17, PC 16 Stroke, MI, VD
OR: 0.57; 95% CI:
0.42-0.77

All ICH
OR: 2.38; 95% CI:
0.54-10.50)

Major extracranial
bleeds
OR: 1.07; 95% CI:
0.53-2.12
1° indicates primary; AF, atrial fibrillation; AFASAK, Atrial Fibrillation, Aspirin and Anticoagulant Therapy Study; BAATAF, Boston Area Anticoagulation Trial for Atrial Fibrillation; CAFA, Canadian Atrial
Fibrillation Anticoagulation ; ICH, intracranial hemorrhage; INR, international normalized ratio; MI, myocardial infarction; N/A, not applicable; OR, odds ratio; PC, placebo; Pts, patients; RR, relative risk;
SPAF I, Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation Study; SPINAF, Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation; TIA, transient ischemic attack; VD, vascular death; and VKA, vitamin K antagonist.


Data Supplement 5. Warfarin vs. Antiplatelet Therapy (Section 4.2)
Study
Name,
Author,
Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention
vs.
Comparator
(n)
Patient Population Study
Intervention
Endpoints P Values,
OR: HR: RR: &
95% CI:
Study
Limitations
Inclusion
Criteria
Exclusion
Criteria
Primary
Endpoint &
Results
Safety
Endpoint &
Results
Secondary
Endpoint &
Results

Aguilar MI,
et al., 2007
(154)
17636831


To
characterize
the relative
effect of long-
term oral
anticoagulant
Tx compared
with
antiplatelet Tx
in pts with AF
and no Hx of
stroke or TIA
Cochrane
Collaboration
Systematic
Review
(ACTIVE-W,
AFASAK I,
AFASAK II,
ATHENS,
NASPEAF,
PATAF,
SPAF IIa,
SPAF IIb,
9,598 pts

OAC
4,815

Antiplatelet
4,783
AF
(intermitten
t or
sustained)
Prior stroke or
TIA, mitral
stenosis or
prosthetic
cardiac valves
Adjusted
dose warfarin
or other
coumarins;
antiplatelet
therapies
All Stroke
(ischemic or
ICH)

OAC
132/4,815

Antiplatelet
190/4,783
ICH, major
extracranial
bleeds
Stroke, MI,
or VD
All Stroke
OR: 0.68; 95% CI:
0.54-0.85;
p=0.00069

Ischemic stroke
OR: 0.53; 95% CI:
0.41-0.69

ICH
OR: 1.98; 95% CI:
1.20-3.28

Major Extracranial
OR: 0.97; 95% CI:
0.74-1.28
N/A


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 8


Major Extracranial
(exclude ACTIVE
W with CP+A)
OR: 1.90; 95% CI:
1.07-3.39

Stroke, MI, 485 VD
OR: 0.74; 95% CI:
0.61-0.90
Saxena R, et
al., 2011
(155)
15494992
To compare
the value of
anticoagulants
and
antiplatelet Tx
for the long
term
prevention of
recurrent
vascular
events in pts
with non-
rheumatic AF
and previous
TIA or minor
ischemic
stroke
Cochrane
Collaboration
Systematic
Review
(EAFT,
SIFA)
1,371 pts,
warfarin 679,
antiplatelet
692
AF and
prior minor
stroke or
TIA
Rheumatic
VD
Oral VKAs
(warfarin)
mean
INR>2.0;
Antiplatelets
300 mg ASA;
indobufen
200 mg BID
All major
vascular
events (VD,
recurrent
stroke, MI, or
SE)
Any ICH;
major
extracranial
bleed
All fatal or
nonfatal
recurrent
strokes
All Major Vasc
Events
OR: 0.67; 95% CI:
0.50-0.91

Recurrent Stroke
OR: 0.49; 95% CI:
0.33-0.72

Any ICH
OR: 1.99; 95% CI:
0.40-9.88

Major Extracranial
bleed
OR: 5.16; 95% CI:
2.08-12.83
N/A
Mant J, et
al., 2007
BAFTA
(156)
17693178
To compare
the efficacy of
warfarin with
that of ASA for
the prevention
of fatal and
nonfatal
stroke, ICH,
and other
clinically
significant
arterial
embolism in a
1° care
RCT (973
pts)
973 pts,
ASA 485,
warfarin 488
Age •���\��
AF or flutter
by EKG
within 2 y
from 1°
care
practices
Rheumatic
heart disease,
a major
nontraumatic
hemorrhage
within 5 y,
ICH,
documented
peptic ulcer
disease within
the previous
year,
esophageal
varices,
ASA 75 mg
QD;
Warfarin
target INR
2.5, range 2-
3
Fatal or
nonfatal
disabling
stroke
(ischemic or
hemorrhagic),
other ICH, or
clinically
significant
arterial
embolism

Warfarin 24
(1.8%/y)
Hemorrhage
Major
extracranial
Warfarin 18
(1.4%/y)
ASA 20
(1.6%/y)

All major
hemorrhages
Warfarin 25
(1.9%/y)
ASA 25
(2.0%/y)
Major
vascular
events
(stroke, MI,
PE, VD)
Warfarin 76
(5.9%/y)
ASA 100
(8.1%/y)

1° events
plus major
hemorrhage
Warfarin 39
RR: 0.48; 95% CI:
0.28-0.80;
p=0.0027

Stroke
RR: 0.46; 95% CI:
0.26-0.79; p=0.003

All major
hemorrhages
RR: 0.96; 95% CI:
0.53-1.75; p=0.90

Major vascular
Open-label
with blind
assessment
s

67% of the
warfarin
group
remained on
Tx TTR was
67%


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 9

population of
pts aged •���
y who had AF
allergic
hypersensitivit
y to study
drugs,
terminal
illness,
surgery within
the last 3 mo,
BP>180/110

ASA 48
(3.8%/y)
(3.0%/y)
ASA 64
(5.1%/y)
events (stroke, MI,
PE, VD)
RR: 0.73; 95% CI:
0.53-0.99; p=0.03

1° events plus
major hemorrhage
RR: 0.59; 95% CI:
0.38-0.89; p=0.008
1° indicates primary; AF, atrial fibrillation; ACTIVE-W, Atrial Fibrillation Clopidogrel Trial with Irbesartan for Prevention of Vascular Events-W; AFASAK, Atrial Fibrillation, Aspirin and Anticoagulant Therapy
Study; ATHENS, Primary Prevention of Arterial Thromboembolism in the Oldest Old with Atrial Fibrillation; BID, twice daily; BP, blood pressure; EAFT, European Atrial Fibrillation Trial; EKG,
electrocardiogram; Hx, history; ICH, intracranial hemorrhage; MI, myocardial infarction; N/A, not applicable; NASPEAF, National Study for Prevention of Embolism in Atrial Fibrillation; PATAF, Primary
Prevention of Arterial Thromboembolism in Nonrheumatic Atrial Fibrillation; PE, pulmonary embolism; pts, patients; QD, once daily; RR, relative risk; SE, systemic embolism; SIFA, Studio Italiano
Fibrillazione Atriale; SPAF, Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation Study; TIA, transient ischemic attack; TTR, time in therapeutic range; Tx, therapy; and VD, vascular death.

Data Supplement 6. Beta Blockers (Sections 5.1.1)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention vs.
Comparator
(n)
Patient Population Study
Intervention
Endpoints P Values,
OR: HR: RR:
& 95% CI:
Adverse
Events
Study
Limitations
Inclusion
Criteria
Exclusion
Criteria
Primary
Endpoint &
Results
Secondary
Endpoint &
Results

Abrams J, et
al., 1985 (157)
3904379
Evaluation of
the efficacy
and safety of
esmolol in
comparing to
propranolol
for the acute
control of
SVT
Randomized
prospective,
multicenter
double-blind
IV esmolol vs.
IV propranolol
Pts over age
18 y with
ventricular
rates >120
bpm 2° to AF,
atrial flutter,
SVT, atrial
tachycardia,
idiopathic
sinus
tachycardia
and AV
reentrant
tachycardias
WPW
syndrome,
hypotension,
sick sinus
syndrome, AV
conduction
delay
decompensate
d HF or
noncardiac
precipitated
arrhythmias
Esmolol vs.
propranolol
Composite
endpoint of
HLWKHU�•����
reduction from
average
baseline heart
rate, reduction
in heart rate to
<100 bpm, or
conversion to
NSR
esmolol 72%
vs. propranolol
69%
N/A No difference












Hypotensi
on
(esmolol
45% vs.
propranol
ol 18%)
Small
sample size

Only 66%
of pts had
AF
Farshi R, et al.,
1999 (158)
9973007
Comparison
of the effects
of 5 standard
drug
Prospective,
open-label
crossover
outpatient
N/A Chronic AF
pts who had
a duration of
•��\
LVEF<0.35,
WPW
syndrome, sick
sinus
Comparison
of the effects
of 5 standard
drug
Comparison of
24 h mean
ventricular rates

Peak
ventricular
response at 5
m of exercise:
p<0.01 for
comparison
of atenolol or
atenolol and
N/A N/A


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 10

regimens:
digoxin,
diltiazem,
atenolol,
digoxin plus
diltiazem, and
digoxin +
atenolol on
the mean 24-
h heart rate
syndrome,
pacemaker or
clinically
significant
renal, thyroid or
hepatic disease
regimens:
digoxin,
diltiazem,
atenolol,
digoxin plus
diltiazem,
and digoxin
+ atenolol on
the mean 24-
h heart rate
Digoxin:
78.9±16.3
Diltiazem:
80.0±15
Atenolol:
75.9±11.7
Digoxin +
Diltiazem:
67.3±14.1
Digoxin +
atenolol:
65±9.4
Digoxin:
175±36
Diltiazem:
151±27
Atenolol:
130±34
Digoxin +
Diltiazem:
146±40
Digoxin +
atenolol:
126±29
digoxin
compared to
digoxin alone
1° indicates primary; 2°, secondary; AF, atrial fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; HF, heart failure; HR, hazard ratio; IV, intravenous; LVEF, left ventricular ejection fraction; N/A, not applicable; NSR, normal
sinus rhythm; pts, patients; SVT, supraventricular tachycardia; Tx, therapy; and WPW, Wolff-Parkinson-White.

Data Supplement 7. Nondihydropyridine Calcium Channel Blockers (Sections 5.1.2)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention vs.
Comparator (n)
Patient Population Study
Intervention
Endpoints P Values,
OR: HR: RR: &
95% CI:
Study
Limitations
Inclusion
Criteria
Exclusion Criteria Primary Endpoint
& Results

Ellenbogen KA, et
al., 1991 (159)
1894861
To demonstrate
the safety and
efficacy of a
continuous IV
diltiazem infusion
for 24 h heart rate
control
Randomized,
double-blind,
parallel, PC-
controlled
IV diltiazem vs.
PC
Pts >18 y with AF
or atrial flutter
with duration >24
h and HR>120
bpm
Severe CHF, sinus
node dysfunction,
2nd or 3rd degree
AV block, WPW
syndrome or
hypotension
IV diltiazem vs.
PC
Therapeutic
response
(ventricular
response <100
bpm, •20%
decrease in heart
rate from baseline
or conversion to
NSR

74% vs. 0%
p<0.001 Small sample
size
Steinberg JS, et
al., 1987 (160)
3805530

To determine the
efficacy of
diltiazem to control
ventricular
response at rest,
during exercise,
and during daily
activities
Prospective,
open-label
Oral diltiazem Pts with chronic
AF with a
VR>100 bpm at 3
min of a
standardized
exercise test
UA, acute MI,
WPW syndrome,
hypotension, renal
or hepatic failure,
sick sinus
syndrome without a
pacemaker
Oral diltiazem Ventricular
response:
Rest: 69±10 vs.
96±17

Exercise: 116±26
vs. 155±28+
p<0.001 Small sample
size

Most pts at
entry were on
digoxin and
continued on
digoxin


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 11

Siu CW, 2009 et
al., (161)
19487941

To compare the
clinical efficacy of
IV diltiazem,
digoxin, and
amiodarone for
acute VR in
symptomatic AF
Randomized,
prospective,
open-label
IV diltiazem vs.
IV amiodarone
vs. IV digoxin
Hospitalized pts
with symptomatic
AF<48 h with
ventricular
response >120
bpm
Ventricular
response >200
bpm, pre-excitation
syndrome,
hypotension, CHF,
implanted
pacemaker/defibrill
ator, recent MI, UA
or stroke
IV diltiazem vs.
IV amiodarone
vs. IV digoxin
VR control (<90
bpm) within 24 h:
ventricular
response <90 bpm
sustained for •4 h

Diltiazem 90% vs.
amiodarone 74%
vs. digoxin 74%
p<0.47 N/A
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; CHF, congestive heart failure; IV, intravenous; MI, myocardial infarction; N/A, not applicable; NSR, normal sinus rhythm; PC, placebo; pts, patients; RR,
relative risk; UA, unstable angina; VR, ventricular rate; and WPW, Wolff-Parkinson-White.

Data Supplement 8. Digoxin (Sections 5.1.3)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention vs.
Comparator (n)
Patient Population Study
Intervention
Endpoints P Values,
OR: HR: RR:
& 95% CI:
Study
Limitations
Inclusion
Criteria
Exclusion
Criteria
Primary
Endpoint &
Results
Secondary
Endpoint &
Results

IV Digoxin in Acute
AF (162)
9129897
To examine
the effects of
IV digoxin in
acute AF
Randomized,
prospective,
multicenter,
double-blind
PC-controlled
IV digoxin vs. PC Pts >18 y with
AF”7d
Ongoing Tx with
digoxin or
antiarrhythmics,
sick sinus
syndrome or 2nd
/3rd degree AV
block without a
pacemaker,
WPW
syndrome, heart
rate <60 or
>170 bpm,
ongoing
ischemia or
recent MI
IV digoxin
vs. PC
Conversion to
sinus rhythm
at 16 h

Digoxin 46%
vs. PC 51%
Effect on heart
rate:

91.2±20 vs.
116.2±25
p=0.37


p<0.0001
N/A
AFFIRM
Olshansky B, et al.,
2004 (163)
15063430
To examine
whether
digoxin use
was
associated
with adverse
Post hoc
analysis
Nonrandomized
comparison of
digoxin vs. no
digoxin
Pts with AF
considered at
high risk for
stroke
N/A Post hoc
analysis
including
propensity
analysis
Estimated HR
of 1.41 for all-
cause
mortality for
digoxin
Estimated HR
of 1.61 for
arrhythmic
mortality

Estimated HR
p<0.001

p<0.009

p<0.016
Post hoc
analysis
utilizing
propensity
scoring


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 12

mortality and
morbidity
of 1.35 for CV
mortality
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; AFFIRM, Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management; AV, atrioventricular; HR, hazard ratio; IV, intravenous; MI, myocardial infarction; N/A, not
applicable; PC, placebo; pts, patients; RR, relative risk; Tx, therapy; and WPW, Wolff-Parkinson-White.

Data Supplement 9. Other Pharmacological Agents for Rate Control (Sections 5.1.4)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention
vs.
Comparator (n)
Patient Population Study
Intervention
Endpoints P Values,
OR: HR: RR:
& 95% CI:
Adverse
Events
Inclusion
Criteria
Exclusion
Criteria
Primary
Endpoint &
Results
Safety
Endpoint &
Results
Secondary
Endpoint &
Results

Delle Karth G, et
al., 2001 (164)
11395591

To compare
the efficacy of
IV diltiazem
bolus/infusion
vs. IV
amiodarone
bolus vs. IV
amiodarone
bolus/infusion
for immediate
(4 h) and 24-h
rate control
during AF
Randomized
prospective,
controlled
IV diltiazem
bolus/infusion
vs. IV
amiodarone
bolus vs. IV
amiodarone
bolus/infusion
Critically ill
pts with
recent-onset
AF with
ventricular
rate >120
bpm
N/A IV diltiazem
bolus/
infusion vs.
IV
amiodarone
bolus vs. IV
amiodarone
bolus/infusio
n
Sustained heart
rate reduction
•30% within 4 h

70% vs. 55%
vs. 75%
Bradycardia
or
hypotension

35% vs. 0%
vs. 5%
Uncontrolle
d
tachycardia
0% vs. 45%
vs. 5%
1° endpoint:
NS

2° endpoint
p<0.00016

Safety
endpoint
p=0.01
N/A
Connolly SJ, et
al., 2011 (165)
22082198

Assess
impact of
dronedarone
on major
vascular
events in
high-risk
permanent AF
Randomized
prospective,
multicenter,
double-blind,
PC-
controlled
trial
(3,236)
Dronedarone
400 mg po
BID vs. PC
Permanent
AF / flutter,
age •65 y
ZLWK�•��ULVN�
factor: CAD,
CVA or TIA,
CHF,
LVEF”0.40,
PAD or age
•75 y with
HTN and
DM
Paroxysmal
or persistent
AF,
ICD,
heart rate
<50 bpm,
QT interval
corrected
>500 ms
Dronedarone
vs. PC
Composite of
stroke, MI, SE,
or CV death

Composite of
unplanned
hospitalization
for CV event/
death
N/A N/A HR: 2.29;
95% CI: 1.34-
3.94



HR: 1.95;
95% CI: 1.45-
2.62
Stroke HR:
2.32; 95%
CI: 1.11-
4.88

Unplanned
hospitalizati
on for CV
event HR:
1.81; 95%
CI: 1.44-
2.70
1° indicates primary; 2°, secondary; AF, atrial fibrillation; BID, twice daily; CAD, coronary artery disease; CHF, congestive heart failure; CV, cardiovascular; CVA, cerebrovascular accident; DM, diabetes
mellitus; HR, hazard ratio; HTN, hypertension; ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator; IV, intravenous; LVEF, left ventricular ejection fraction; MI, myocardial infarction; N/A, not applicable; NS, not
significant; PAD, peripheral artery disease; PC, placebo; po, orally; pts, patients; RR, relative risk; SE systemic embolism; and TIA, transient ischemic attack.


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 13

Data Supplement 10. AV Junction Ablation (Sections 5.2)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention vs.
Comparator (n)
Patient Population Study
Intervention
Endpoints
Primary Endpoint
& Results
P Values,
OR: HR: RR:
& 95% CI:
Study
Limitations
Inclusion
Criteria
Exclusion
Criteria

Ozcan C, et
al., 2001
(166)
11287974

Assess effect of
radio-frequency
ablation of the AV
node and implantation
of a permanent
pacemaker on long-
term survival in pts
with AF refractory to
drug Tx
Observational
single site
Comparison to 2
control
populations

Age/sex matched
from minnesota
population

Consecutive pts
with AF who
received drug Tx
All pts who
underwent AV
nodal ablation
and pacemaker
implantation for
medically
refractory AF
between 1990
and 1998
N/A AV nodal ablation
pacemaker
compared to 2
control groups
No difference in
survival between
ablation/pacemaker
group and control
group treated with
drugs

Excess observed
death in ablation/
pacemaker group
relative to age/sex
matched population
N/A Observation,
nonrandomized
trial
AF indicates atrial fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; N/A, not applicable; pts, patients; RR, relative risk; and Tx, therapy.

Data Supplement 11. Broad Considerations in Rate Control (Sections 5.3.1)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention vs.
Comparator (n)
Patient Population Study
Intervention
Endpoints P Values,
OR: HR: RR:
& 95% CI:
Adverse Events
Inclusion
Criteria
Exclusion
Criteria
Primary
Endpoint &
Results
Secondary
Endpoint &
Results

Van Gelder IC,
et al., 2010
(167)
20231232
Lenient rate
control is
noninferior to
strict rate
control in
permanent AF
Randomized,
prospective,
multicenter,
open label
N=614
Lenient rate
control (resting
heart rate <110)
vs. strict rate
control (resting
heart rate <80)
Age <80 y,
permanent
AF, oral
anticoagulan
t or ASA Tx
N/A N/A Composite of
CV death and
morbidity at

12.9% vs.
14.9%
Death,
components of
1° endpoint, Sx,
and functional
status
1° endpoint,
3 y, HR:
0.84;
95% CI:
0.58-1.21
HF (3.8% vs. 4.1%);
HR: 0.97; 95% CI:
0.48-1.96

Stroke 1.6% vs.
3.9%, HR: 0.35; 95%
CI: 0.13-0.92

CV death 2.9% vs.
3.9%, HR: 0.79; 95%
CI: 0.38-1.65
1° indicates primary; AF, atrial fibrillation; ASA, aspirin; CV, cardiovascular; HF, heart failure; HR, hazard ratio; N/A, not applicable; pts, patients; RACE, Rate Control Efficacy in Permanent Atrial
Fibrillation; RR, relative risk; Sx, symptom; and Tx, therapy.


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 14

Data Supplement 12. Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy (Section 6.2.1)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention
vs.
Comparator
(n)
Patient Population Endpoints Adverse Events Comments
Primary Endpoint &
Results
Secondary
Endpoint &
Results
ADONIS,
Singh BN, et
al.,
2007 (168)
17804843
To assess the
efficacy of
dronedarone in
maintenance of
SR in pts with AF
RCT, double-
blind
(625)
Dronedarone
400 mg BID
(417)

PC (208)
Age •���\
•��HSLVRGH�$)�LQ�SUHYLRXV���
mo

Time to the 1st
recurrence of AF or
atrial flutter

Dronedarone 158 d
PC 59 d
(p=0.002)
Ventricular rate
after recurrence,
dronedarone
104.6 bpm
PC 116.6 bpm
(p<0.001).
N/A Dronedarone was
more effective than
PC in maintaining
SR and in reducing
ventricular rate
during recurrent AF
AFFIRM
Substudy,
2003 (169)
12849654

To evaluate the
efficacy of
antiarrhythmic
drugs for AF
RCT, open-
label
(410)
Amiodarone
200 mg/d vs.
class I drug vs.
sotalol
Substudy of pts randomized
to rhythm control
1° – proportion at 1 y
alive, on Tx drug, and
in SR

62% amiodarone vs.
23% class I drug
(p<0.001)

60% amiodarone vs.
38% sotalol
(p=0.002)

34% sotalol vs. 23%
class I drug
(p=0.488)
N/A AEs leading to drug
discontinuation
12.3% amiodarone
11.1% sotalol
28.1% class I agent

Amiodarone
pulmonary toxicity
1.3% at 1 y and
2.0% at 2 y

1 case torsade de
pointes - quinidine
Amiodarone more
effective than sotalol
or class I agent for
SR without
cardioversion

AEs were common
Aliot E, et al.,
1996 (170)
8607394
To assess the
safety and
efficacy of
flecainide vs.
propafenone in
PAF or atrial
flutter
RCT, open-
label
(97)
Flecainide 100-
200 mg/d
(48)

Propafenone
600 mg/d
(49)
Inclusion: >18 y with
symptomatic PAF or atrial
flutter

Exclusion: AF last >72 h, Hx
of MI or UA, Hx of VT, Hx of
HF (NYHA class III or IV),
LVEF<35%, PR>280 ms,
QRS>150 ms, sick sinus
syndrome or AV block in
absence of pacemaker
Probability of SR at 1
y
0.619 flecainide
0.469 propafenone
(p=0.79)
N/A 8.5% flecainide
group had
neurologic side
effects

16.7% propafenone
group GI side effects
Flecainide and
propafenone similar
efficacy (although
small sample size
and open-label
design)

Nonsignificant trend
toward higher side-
effects with
propafenone


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 15

ANDROMEDA,
Kober L, et al.,
2008 (171)
18565860
To evaluate the
efficacy of
dronedarone in
HF pts
RCT, double-
blind

(627)
Dronedarone
(310)

PC
(317)
Age >18 y, hospitalized for
HF, LVEF<35%, NYHA class
III or IV
(Did not require AF Dx, Hx of
AF 37-40%)
Death from any
cause or HF
hospitalization
17.1% dronedarone
12.6% PC
HR: 1.38; 95% CI:
0.92-2.09; p=0.12
N/A Death
8.1% dronedarone
3.8% PC
HR: 2.13; 95% CI:
1.07-4.25; p=0.03
Dronedarone is
associated with
increased mortality
in pts with severe HF
and reduced LVEF
related to worsening
of HF
ASAP,
Page RL, et
al.,
2003 (172)
12615792
To assess the
frequency of
asymptomatic AF
in pts treated with
azimilide
RCT, double-
blind
(1,380)
Azimilide 35-
125 mg/d (891)

PC (489)
Inclusion: Symptomatic AF in
SR at time of randomization

Exclusion: Rest angina or
UA, class IV CHF, Hx of
torsade de pointes, QTc
>440 ms, resting SR<50
bpm
Time to 1st
documented
asymptomatic AF –
no significant
difference

40% reduction in
asymptomatic AF
episodes in the 100
mg or 125 mg
azimilide group vs.
PC (p=0.03)
N/A N/A N/A
ATHENA,
Hohnloser SH,
et al., 2009
(173)
19213680
N/A RCT, double-
blind
(4,628)
Dronedarone
400 mg BID
(2,301)

PC
(2,327)
Inclusion: AF (paroxysmal or
SHUVLVWHQW��DQG�•��RI�WKHVH��
>70 y, HTN, DM,
LVEF<40%, LAD>50 mm,
Hx of TIA/stroke/embolism
1° – 1st
hospitalization due to
CV event or death
31.9% dronedarone
39.4% PC
HR: 0.76; p<0.001
Death due to any
cause

CV death

CV
hospitalization
N/A N/A
Bellandi F, et
al., 2001 (174)
11564387
To evaluate the
long-term efficacy
and safety of
propafenone and
sotalol for
maintaining SR
RCT, double-
blind
(194)
Propafenone
HCL 900 mg/d
(102)

Sotalol HCL
240 mg/d (106)

PC (92)
•���\��UHFXUUHQW�$)��•��
episodes previous 12 mo)
and episode of AF at
enrollment <48 h


Proportion of pts
remaining in SR at 1
y FU

63% propafenone
73% sotalol
35% PC
(p=0.001)
N/A 4% ventricular
arrhythmia with
sotalol

Drug discontinuation
due to AEs – 9%
propafenone, 10%
sotalol, 3% PC
Sotalol and
propafenone appear
to have similar
efficacy and are
superior to PC at
maintaining SR at 1
y
Benditt DG, et
al., 1999 (175)
10496434
To evaluate the
efficacy of sotalol
for maintaining of
SR
RCT, double-
blind
(253)
Sotalol 80 mg
BID (59)

Sotalol 120 mg
BID (63)

Sotalol 160 mg
Inclusion: symptomatic AF or
atrial flutter and SR at time
of randomization

Dose reduction in presence
of renal dysfunction

Time to first recurrent
symptomatic AF or
atrial flutter after
steady state
(intention to treat)

27 d PC
Proportion of pts
free of AF 12 mo

28% PC
30% sotalol 80
mg
40% sotalol 120
Bradycardia and
fatigue most
common AEs

No cases of torsade
de pointes in this
study
Outpatient initiation
in 27%


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 16

BID (62)

PC (69)
Exclusion: QT>450 ms,
sinus rate <50, other QT
prolonging drugs, renal
failure (CrCl<40 mL/min), Hx
of HF, uncorrected
hypokalemia, asymptomatic
AF, sick sinus syndrome
without pacer, MI<2 mo,
syncope, TIA/stroke
106 d sotalol 80 mg
229 d sotalol 120 mg
175 d sotalol 160 mg

mg
45% sotalol 160
mg
Byrne-Quinn
E, et al.,
1970 (176)
4911757

To evaluate the
efficacy of
quinidine for
maintenance of
SR
RCT, double-
blind
(65)
Quinidine 1.2
g/d (28)

PC (37)
Inclusion: Pts hospitalized
for AF with plan for
cardioversion

Exclusion: digoxin stopped
24 h prior
Percentage of pts at
FU in SR

24.3% PC
57% quinidine
N/A 1 death presumed
related to quinidine
Small sample size,
variable FU period
(5-15 mo)
Carunchio A,
et al., 1995
(177)
7642012
To evaluate the
efficacy and
safety of
flecainide and
sotalol for
maintenance of
SR
RCT, open-
label
(66)
Flecainide
acetate 200
mg/d (20)

Sotalol HCL
240 mg/d (20)

PC (26)
N/A Arrhythmia free
survival at 12 mo

70% flecainide
60% sotalol
27% PC

p=0.002 AAD vs. PC
p=0.163 flecainide
vs. sotalol
N/A N/A Flecainide and
sotalol have similar
efficacy in prevention
of recurrence of AF

Side effects common
but serious AE
uncommon in this
FU period
Channer KS,
et al.,
2004 (178)
14720531
To evaluate the
efficacy of
amiodarone to
prevent recurrent
AF after
cardioversion
RCT, double-
blind
(161)
Amiodarone
(short-term)
200 mg/d for 8
wk after DCCV
(62)

Amiodarone
(long-term) 200
mg/d for 52 wk
after DCCV
(61)

PC (38)
Inclusion: Age >18 y and
sustained AF>72 h

Exclusion: LVEF<20%,
significant valve disease,
female <50 y, thyroid, lung or
liver disease,
contraindication to
anticoagulation
Percentage in SR at
1 y

49% long-term
amiodarone
33% short-term (8 wk
after DCCV)
amiodarone
5% PC
Spontaneous
conversion to SR
21% amiodarone
and 0% in PC

SR rhythm at 8
wk after DCCV –
16% PC, 47%
short-term
amiodarone,
56% long-term
amiodarone
AEs leading to
discontinuation

3% PC
8% short-term
amiodarone
18% long-term
amiodarone
Amiodarone pre-Tx
allows chemical
cardioversion in 1/5
of pts with persistent
AF and is more
effective at
maintaining SR after
DCCV

Given the long-term
AEs with
amiodarone, 8 wk of
adjuvant Tx
suggested as option
by authors


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 17

CTAF,
Roy D, et al.,
2000 (179)
10738049
Low dose
amiodarone would
be more
efficacious in
preventing
recurrent AF than
sotalol or
propafenone
RCT
(403)
Amiodarone
200 mg/d (201)

Sotalol 160 mg
BID (101)

Propafenone
150 QID (101)
Symptomatic AF within
previous 6 mo but not
persistent AF>6mo
Recurrence of AF
during FU (mean 16
mo)
35% amiodarone
63% sotalol or
propafenone
(p<0.001)
N/A AEs requiring drug
discontinuation 18%
amiodarone vs. 11%
sotalol or
propafenone group
(p=0.06)
Amiodarone is more
effective than sotalol
or propafenone in
preventing recurrent
AF (with a trend
toward higher side-
effects)
DAFNE,
Touboul P, et
al., 2003 (180)
12919771
To determine the
most appropriate
dose of
dronedarone for
prevention of AF
after DCCV
RCT, double-
blind
(199)
Dronedarone
800 mg/d (54)

Dronedarone
1,200 mg/d
(54)

Dronedarone
1600 mg/d (43)

PC (48)
Inclusion: age 21-85 y, pts
with persistent AF (>72 h
and <12 mo) scheduled for
DCCV

Exclusion: Hx of torsade de
pointes, QT>500 ms, severe
bradycardia, AV block,
NYHA class III or IV HF,
LVEF<35, ICD, WPW
syndrome
Time to first
documented AF
recurrence at 6 mo

60 d for dronedarone
400 mg BID
5.3 d for PC
(p=0.001)
Spontaneous
conversion of AF
with
dronedarone 5.8
to 14.8% pts
Premature
discontinuation
22.6% 1600 mg,
3.9% 800 mg
Small sample size,
dose-finding study
DIAMOND,
Pedersen OD,
et al., 2001
(181)
11457747
To evaluate the
efficacy of
dofetilide to
maintain SR in pt
with LV
dysfunction
RCT, double-
blind
(506)
Dofetilide 500
mcg/d (249)

PC (257)
Inclusion: Persistent AF
associated with either HF or
recent acute MI

Dose reduction for renal
insufficiency

Exclusion: HR: <50 bpm,
QTc>460 ms (500 ms with
BBB), K<3.6 or >5.5,
CrCl<20 mL/min
Probability of
maintaining SR at 1 y

79% dofetilide
42% with PC
(p<0.001)
No effect on all-
cause mortality

Dofetilide
associated with
reduced rate of
rehospitalization
Torsade de pointes
occurred in 4
dofetilide pts (1.6%)
N/A
DIONYSOS,
Le Heuzey JY,
et al., 2010
(182)
20384650
To evaluate the
efficacy
and safety of
amiodarone and
dronedarone in
pts with persistent
AF
RCT, double-
blind
(504)
Amiodarone
600 mg QD for
28 d then 200
mg QD
(255)

Dronedarone
400 mg BID
(249)
Age •���\�ZLWK�GRFXPHQWHG�
AF for >72 h for whom CV
and AAD were indicated and
oral anticoagulation
Recurrence of AF
(including
unsuccessful CV) or
premature study
discontinuation at 12
mo
75.1% dronedarone,
58.8% amiodarone,
HR: 1.59; 95% CI:
1.28-1.98; p<0.0001
N/A Drug discontinuation
less frequent with
dronedarone (10.4
vs. 13.3%). MSE
was 39.3% and
44.5% with
dronedarone and
amiodarone,
respectively,
at 12 mo (HR: 0.80;
Dronedarone was
less effective than
amiodarone in
decreasing AF
recurrence, but had
a better safety profile


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 18


Mainly driven by AF
recurrence with
dronedarone
compared with
amiodarone (63.5 vs.
42.0%)
95% CI: 0.60 to
1.07; p=0.129), and
mainly driven by
fewer thyroid,
neurologic, skin, and
ocular events in the
dronedarone group
Dogan A, et
al.,
2004 (183)
15255456
To evaluate the
efficacy of
propafenone for
maintenance of
SR after
cardioversion
RCT, Single-
blind
(110)
Propafenone
450 mg/d (58)

PC (52)
Recent onset or persistent
AF

Exclusion: MI, HF, CABG<6
mo, severe COPD, LA
thrombus, thyroid disease,
inability to consent to DCCV
Percentage of AF
recurrences at 15 mo

39% propafenone
65% PC
Spontaneous
conversion with
drug predicted
lower chance of
recurrence
Discontinuation due
to side effects: 4 pts
on propafenone and
1 PC (p=0.36)
Propafenone is more
effective than PC for
prevention of
recurrent AF
EURIDIS,
Singh BN, et
al., 2007 (168)
17804843
To assess the
efficacy of
dronedarone in
maintenance of
SR in pts with AF
RCT, double-
blind
(612)
Dronedarone
400 mg BID
(411)

PC (201)

•��HSLVRGH�$)�LQ�SUHYLRXV����
mo, Age •�\
Time to the 1st
recurrence of AF or
atrial flutter
96 d dronedarone
41 d in the PC
(p=0.01)
After AF
recurrence,
mean rate=117.5
bpm, PC=102.3
bpm,
dronedarone
(p<0.001)
N/A Dronedarone was
more effective than
PC in maintaining
SR and in reducing
ventricular rate
during recurrent AF
FAPIS,
Chimienti M, et
al., 1996 (184)
8607393
To compare the
safety of
flecainide to
propafenone for
Tx of PAF
RCT, open-
label
(200)
Flecainide
acetate 200
mg/d (97)

Propafenone
HCL 450-900
mg/d (103)
Paroxysmal AF without
structural heart disease
Probability of
remaining free of AEs
at 12 mo

77% flecainide
75% propafenone

1 VT in propafenone
group
2 accelerated
ventricular response
with flecainide
Drug
discontinuation

4 flecainide
5 propafenone
N/A AEs appear occur at
similar rate with
propafenone and
flecainide in this
population with AF
and without
evidence of
structural disease
GEFACA,
Galperin J, et
al., 2001 (185)
11907636
To evaluate the
efficacy of
amiodarone for
restoration and
maintenance of
SR
RCT, double-
blind
(50)
Amiodarone
200 mg/d (47)

PC (48)
Persistent AF>2 mo duration

Exclusion: paroxysmal AF,
age >75 y, HR<50 bpm,
LA>60 mm
Recurrent AF in 37%
amiodarone and 80%
PC group

Spontaneous
conversion 34% with
amiodarone and 0%
PC
N/A AEs 15% of pts on
amiodarone
Amiodarone restored
SR in 1/3 pts,
increased success of
DCCV, reduced and
delayed recurrence
of AF


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 19

Kalusche D, et
al., 1994 (186)
7846939
To compare the
efficacy of sotalol
to a fixed
combination of
quinidine and
verapamil
RCT, open-
label
(82)
Quinidine
sulfate 1000
mg/d

Sotalol HCL
240-400 mg/d
N/A SR at 6 and 12 mo
75.7% and 67.3%
quinidine/verapamil
63.4 and 49.9%
sotalol
p=NS
N/A 5 pts
quinidine/verapamil
discontinued Tx due
to noncardiac AEs, 3
pts in sotalol
discontinued due to
bradycardia
No proarrhythmia
noted
N/A
Kochiadakis
GE, et al.,
2004 (187)
15589019
Compare the
efficacy and
safety of sotalol
and propafenone
for prevention of
recurrent AF
RCT, single-
blind
(254)
Propafenone
HCL 240 mg/d
(86)

Sotalol HCL
320 mg/d (85)

PC (83)
Symptomatic AF, successful
chemical or DCCV if
persistent
Percentage
recurrence AF during
FU
69/85 sotalol
45/86 propafenone
73/83 PC
(p<0.001)
N/A N/A Long-term results
show superiority of
propafenone
(question methods of
comparison)
Kuhlkamp, et
al., 2000 (188)
10898425
To evaluate the
efficacy of
metoprolol XL to
reduce AF
recurrence after
cardioversion
RCT, double-
blind
(394)
Metoprolol XL
100 mg/d (197)

PC (197)
Inclusion: Persistent AF with
successful cardioversion
(DC or chemical)

Exclusion: Concomitant Tx
with any class I or class 3
AAD, beta blocker or CCB
Percentage of pts
with recurrent AF
during FU (up to 6
mo)
48.7% metoprolol XL
59.9% PC
(p=0.005)
Mean HR was
lower with
recurrent AF in
pts on metoprolol
(107 vs. 98;
p=0.015)
SAEs similar with
metoprolol or PC
Metoprolol XL
prevents recurrent
AF after
cardioversion

Short duration of FU
Naccarelli GV,
et al., 1996
(189)
8607392
To compare the
efficacy of
flecainide to
quinidine for PAF
RCT, open-
label
(239)
Flecainide
acetate 200-
300 mg/d (122)

Quinidine
sulfate 1000-
1500 mg/d
(117)
Symptomatic PAF Percentage of pts
with reported
episodes of
symptomatic AF

72% flecainide
74.3% quinidine
(p=0.54)
Combined
endpoint efficacy
and tolerability at
1 y 70%
flecainide vs.
55.4% quinidine
(p<0.007)
N/A Flecainide and
quinidine have
similar efficacy but
flecainide is better
tolerated
PAFAC,
Fetsch T, et
al., 2004 (190)
15302102
To compare the
efficacy of
quinidine and
sotalol to PC for
maintenance of
SR in pt with
persistent AF
RCT, double-
blind
(848)
Quinidine
sulfate 480
mg/d

Sotalol HCL
320 mg/d

Persistent AF lasting >7 d
(mean duration: 15 mo),
N=848, male: 66%, age
(mean, SD): 63, ±9,
structural heart disease: NS,
left anterior descending: 45
mm, LVEF: 60%
At 12 mo:
Mortality
Pro-arrhythmia
AEs
AF recurrence
N/A N/A N/A


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 20

PC
PALLAS,
Connolly SJ, et
al., 2011 (165)
22082198
To assess
whether
dronedarone
would reduce
major vascular
events in high-risk
permanent AF
RCT, double-
blind
(3236)
Dronedarone
400 mg BID


PC
Age >65 y with permanent
AF or atrial flutter with no
plan to restore SR and high
risk feature: CAD, previous
stroke or TIA, HF class II or
III Sx, LVEF<40%, PAD or
age >75 y, HTN & DM
Coprimary outcomes:
Stroke, MI, SE, or CV
death, 43 pts
receiving
dronedarone and 19
receiving PC (HR:
2.29; 95% CI: 1.34-
3.94; p=0.002

Unplanned CV
hospitalization or
death,
127 pts receiving
dronedarone and 67
pts receiving PC (HR:
1.95; 95% CI: 1.45-
2.62; p<0.001)
Hospitalization
for HF occurred
in 43 pts in the
dronedarone
group and 24 in
the PC group
(HR: 1.81; 95%
CI: 1.10- 2.99;
p=0.02)
Most common AEs
were diarrhea,
asthenic condition,
nausea and
vomiting, dizziness,
dyspnea, and
bradycardia

ALT>3x upper limit
normal range
occurred in 22 of
1,481 (1.5%) pts
receiving
dronedarone and in
7 of 1,546 (0.5%)
receiving PC p=0.02
Dronedarone
increased rates of
HF, stroke, and
death from CV
causes in pts with
permanent AF who
were at risk for major
vascular events.
Piccini JP, et
al., 2009 (191)
19744618
To evaluate
randomized trials
of amiodarone
and dronedarone
for safety and
efficacy in AF
Meta-analysis 4 trials of
amiodarone vs.
PC

4 trials of
dronedarone
vs. PC

1 comparison
of amiodarone
vs.
dronedarone
Randomized PC-controlled
trials of amiodarone and
dronedarone for
maintenance of SR in pts
with AF
OR: 0.12 amiodarone
vs. PC (95% CI:
0.08-0.19)

OR: 0.79
dronedarone vs. PC
(95% CI: 0.33-1.87)


N/A Amiodarone trend
towards increased
mortality

Amiodarone greater
number AEs than
dronedarone
Dronedarone is less
effective than
amiodarone but has
fewer AEs



© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 21

Plewan A, et
al., 2001 (192)
11482924
N/A RCT, open-
label
(128)
Sotalol 160
mg/d

Bisoprolol
fumarate 5
mg/d
Persistent AF (mean
duration: 9 mo). N=128
Male: 62%. Age (mean, SD):
59, ±10
Structural heart disease:
72%. LAD: 48 mm. LVEF:
41%
At 8 mo:
Mortality
Pro-arrhythmia
AEs
AF recurrence
N/A N/A N/A
PRODIS,
Crijns HJ, et
al.,
1996 (193)
8842506
N/A RCT, double-
blind
(56)
Disopyramide
phosphate 750
mg/d

Propafenone
HCL 900 mg/d
Persistent AF (mean
duration: 5 mo). N=56
Male: 68%. Age (mean, SD):
60, ±11
Structural heart disease:
65%. LAD: 46 mm. LVEF:
NS
At 6 mo:
Mortality
Pro-arrhythmia
AEs
AF recurrence
N/A N/A N/A
RAFT,
Pritchett EL, et
al.,
2003 (194)
14556870


Assess the
efficacy and
safety of
sustained-
released
propafenone for
maintenance of
SR
RCT, double-
blind
(523)
Propafenone
hydrochloride
450-850 mg/d
(397)


PC
(126)
Inclusion: Symptomatic AF
(type not specified)
SR at time of randomization

Exclusion: Permanent AF,
NYHA class III or IV HF,
cardiac surgery <6 mo,
MI<12 mo, WPW syndrome,
2nd or 3rd degree AV block,
QRS>160 ms, HR<50 bpm,
Hx of VF, VT or ICD
At 9 mo:
Mortality
Pro-arrhythmia
AEs
AF recurrence
N/A N/A N/A
Reimold SC, et
al., 1993 (195)
8438741
To compare the
efficacy of
propafenone and
sotalol for
maintenance of
SR
RCT, open-
label
(100)
Propafenone
HCL 675 mg/d
(50)

Sotalol HCL
320 mg/d (50)
Pts with AF with previous
AAD failure
Percentage with SR
at 3, 6, and 12 mo
46%, 41%, 30%
propafenone
49%, 46%
sotalol
N/A N/A Propafenone and
sotalol similar
efficacy
Richiardi E, et
al., 1992 (196)
1600529
To evaluate the
efficacy and
safety of oral
propafenone vs.
quinidine at
preventing AF
RCT, open-
label
(200)
Propafenone
900 mg/d

Quinidine 1000
mg/d
•��$)�HSLVRGHV�LQ�SDVW���PR

Exclusion: LA size >55 mm,
hepatic or renal insufficiency,
MI<30 d, pregnant,
decompensated HF, thyroid
dysfunction
SR at 6 mo
60% propafenone
56% quinidine

SR at 1 y
48% propafenone
42% quinidine
p=NS N/A 10% side effects
propafenone

24% side-effects
quinidine

(p=0.02)
SAFE-T,
Singh BN, et
To assess the
efficacy of
RCT, double-
blind
Amiodarone
300 mg/d
Inclusion: Persistent AF>72
h including at time of
Pharmacological
Conversion to SR
Sustained SR
improved QOL
NS difference in AEs
among the 3 groups
N/A


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 22

al., 2005 (197)
15872201
amiodarone and
sotalol in
converting AF and
maintenance of
SR
(665)
Sotalol 320
mg/d

PC
randomization & on oral
anticoagulation

Exclusion: Paroxysmal AF or
atrial flutter, NYHA class III
or IV HF, CrCl<60 mL/min,
intolerance to beta blockers,
Hx of long QT syndrome
27.1% amiodarone
24.2% sotalol
0.8% PC

Median Time to
Recurrence AF
(intention to treat)
487 d amiodarone
74 d sotalol
6 d PC
p<0.001
and exercise
capacity






SAFIRE-D,
Singh S, et al.,
2000 (198)
11067793
To determine the
efficacy and
safety of dofetilide
in converting AF
or atrial flutter to
SR and
maintaining SR for
1 y
RCT, double-
blind
(250)
Dofetilide 250-
1000 mcg/d

PC
Inclusion: Age 18-85 y with
AF or atrial flutter 2-26 wk
duration

Exclusion: Sinus node
dysfunction, QRS>180 ms,
QT interval>400 ms
(QT>500 ms with BBB),
sinus rate<50 bpm, Hx of
renal or hepatic disease, use
of verapamil, diltiazem, QT
prolonging drugs
Pharmacological
Conversion Rate

6.1% 125 mcg BID
9.8% 250 mcg BID
29.9% 500 mcg BID
1.2% PC

p=0.015 250 mcg
and p<0.001 500
mcg (vs. PC)

Probability of SR at 1
y

0.40 125 mcg BID
0.37 250 mcg BID
0.58 500 mcg BID
0.25 PC
N/A 2 cases of torsade
de pointes during
initiation phase
(0.8%)

1 sudden death
(proarrhythmic) on
Day 8 (0.4%)
In-hospital initiation
and dosage
adjustment based on
QTc and CrCl to
minimize
proarrhythmic risk
SOPAT,
Patten M, et
al., 2004 (199)
15321697
To assess the
effectiveness of 2
AAD on frequency
of AF
RCT, double-
blind
(1033)
High-dose
Quinidine
sulfate 480
mg/d and
verapamil 240
mg/d (263)

Low-dose
Quinidine
sulfate 320
mg/d and
Age 18-80 y,
symptomatic PAF

Exclusion: cardiogenic
shock, LA thrombus, MI or
cardiac surgery <3 mo, UA,
valve disease requiring
surgery, ICD or pacemaker,
sick sinus syndrome, 2nd or
3rd degree AV block,
QTc>440 ms, bradycardia,
Time to 1st
recurrence of
symptomatic PAF or
premature
discontinuation

105.7 d PC
150.4 d high-dose
quinidine/verapamil
148.9 d low-dose
quinidine/verapamil
AF burden (%
says with
symptomatic AF)

6.1% PC
3.4% high dose
4.5% low dose
2.9% sotalol
(p=0.026)
1 death and 1 VT
event related to
high-dose
quinidine/verapamil

2 syncopal events
related to sotalol
Quinidine/verapamil
fixed combination
similar efficacy to
sotalol but with risk
of SAEs


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 23

verapamil 160
mg/d (255)

Sotalol HCL
320 mg/d (264)

PC (251)
renal or liver dysfunction,
hypokalemia, bundle branch
block

Mean time under Tx 233 d
145.6 d sotalol
(p<0.001)
Stroobandt R,
et al., 1997
(200)
9052343
To assess the
efficacy of
propafenone at
maintaining sinus
rhythm
RCT, double-
blind
(102)
Propafenone
HCL 150 mg
TID (77)

PC (25)
Age >18 y with AF, enrolled
in maintenance phase after
attempt at pharmacological
conversion with IV
propafenone (and if
unsuccessful DCCV)
Proportion of pts free
from recurrent
symptomatic AF at 6
mo
67% propafenone
35% PC
(p<0.001)
N/A NS difference in AEs Evidence for the
efficacy of
propafenone in
maintaining sinus
rhythm after
cardioversion. Short
duration of FU (6
mo)
SVA-3,
Pritchett EL, et
al., 2000 (201)
10987602
To assess the
effectiveness of
azimilide in
reducing
symptomatic AF
or atrial flutter
RCT, double-
blind
(384)
Azimilide 50
mg, 100 mg, or
125 mg

PC
Inclusion: Age •���\��
Symptomatic AF in SR at
time of randomization

Exclusion: Rest angina or
UA, class IV CHF, Hx of
torsade de pointes, QTc>440
ms, resting SR<50 bpm
Time to 1st
symptomatic AF
recurrence

Azimilide 100 mg/125
mg QD vs. PC, HR:
1.58; p=0.005
N/A 2 sudden deaths in
azimilide groups and
1 case of torsade de
pointes
Initiated in outpatient
setting
Villani R, et al.,
1992 (202)
1559321
To compare the
efficacy of
amiodarone to
disopyramide
RCT, open-
label
(76)
Amiodarone
200 mg/d (41)

Disopyramide
phosphate 500
mg/d (35)
Recurrence of AF at
end of FU
57% disopyramide
(13 mo)
32% amidarone (14
mo)
N/A Disopyramide
discontinued due to
AE 14% <1 wk and
another 14% by end
of trial

8.5% developed
hyperthyroidism
Amiodarone is more
effective than
disopyramide for
prevention of
recurrent AF
AAD indicates antiarrhythmic drug; ADONIS, American-Australian-African Trial With Dronedarone in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation or Atrial Flutter for the Maintenance of Sinus Rhythm; AE, adverse
event; AF, atrial fibrillation; AFFIRM, Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management; ALT, alanine aminotransferase; ANDROMEDA, European Trial of Dronedarone in Moderate to
Severe Congestive Heart Failure; ASAP, ASA and Plavix; ATHENA, A Trial With Dronedarone to Prevent Hospitalization or Death in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation; AV, atrioventricular; BBB, bundle-
branch block; BID, twice daily; CABG, coronary artery bypass graft; CCB, calcium channel blocker; CHF, congestive heart failure; COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder; CrCl, creatinine
clearance; CTA, Canadian Trial of Atrial Fibrillation; CV, cardiovascular; DAFNE, Dronedarone Atrial Fibrillation Study after Electrical Cardioversion; DC, direct current; DCCV, direct current
cardioversion; DIAMOND, Danish Investigators of Arrhythmia and Mortality on Dofetilide; DIONYSOS, Efficacy & Safety of Dronedarone Versus Amiodarone for the Maintenance of Sinus Rhythm in
Patients With Atrial Fibrillation; DM, diabetes mellitus; Dx, diagnosis; FAPIS, Flecainide and Propafenone Italian Study; FU, follow-up; GEFACA, Grupo de Estudio de Fibrilacion Auricular Con
Amiodarona; GI, gastrointestinal; HCL, hydrochloride; HF, heart failure; HR, hazard ratio; HTN, hypertension; Hx, history; ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator; K, potassium; LA, left atrial; LAD,
left atrial dimension; LV, left ventricular; LVEF, left ventricular ejection fraction; MI, myocardial infarction; MSE, main safety endpoint; N/A, not applicable; NS, not significant; NYHA, New York Heart
Association; OR, odds ratio; PAF, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation; PALLAS, Permanent Atrial Fibrillation Outcome Study Using Dronedarone on Top of Standard Therapy; PC, placebo; pts, patients; QD,


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 24

once daily; QID, four times a day; QOL, quality of life; RAFT, Rythmol Atrial Fibrillation Trial; RCT, randomized controlled trial; RR, relative risk; SAFE-T, Sotalol Amiodarone Atrial Fibrillation Efficacy
Trial; SAFIRE-D, Symptomatic Atrial Fibrillation Investigative Research on Dofetilide; SD, standard deviation; SOPAT, Suppression of Paroxysmal Atrial Tachyarrhythmias; SR, sinus rhythm; SVA,
Supraventricular Arrhythmia Program; TIA, transient ischemic attack; TID, three times a day; Tx, therapy; UA, unstable angina; VF, ventricular fibrillation; VT, ventricular tachycardia; and WPW, Wolff-
Parkinson-White.

Data Supplement 13. Outpatient Initiation of Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy (Section 6.2.1.2)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Type Intervention (n) Rhythm at
Time of
Initiation
Place of
Initiation
Patient Population Adverse Events

Benditt D, et
al., 1999 (175)
10496434
Prospective
dose finding
study
Sotalol 80 BID (59)
Sotalol 120 BID (63)
Sotalol 160 BID (62)
PC (69)
SR 50 pts -
outpatient
134 pts -
inpatient
Structural heart disease 57%

Exclusion: Hx of torsade de pointes,
CHF, QT>450 ms, hypokalemia
hypomagnesemia, bradycardia
No cases of VT/VF/torsade

QT>520 ms in 7 pts (4 in 120 mg BID and 3 in 160 mg BID)

Premature discontinuation due to AEs 25% inpatients, but
6% of outpatients (bradycardia predominantly)
Chung MK, at
al., 1998 (203)
9669266
Retrospective Sotalol Not
documented
Inpatient 120 inpatients admitted for sotalol
initiation

Structural heart disease (80%)
7 (5.8%) new or increased ventricular arrhythmias, 2 with
torsades de pointes (d 6 in pt with pacemaker and
hypokalemia and d 4 in pts with ICD)

20 (16.7%) with significant bradycardia

8 (6.7%) excessive QT prolongation
SAFE-T,
Singh BN, et
al., 2005 (197)
15872201

Prospective
RCT
Total 665
Amiodarone 267
Sotalol 261
Placebo 137
AF Outpatient Initiated sotalol or amiodarone in the
outpatient setting during AF

Excluded CHF class III or IV, Hx of
long QT, CrCl<60
1 case torsade in sotalol group (nonfatal, time of occurrence
not specified)

13 deaths/267 (6 sudden) amiodarone group
15 deaths/261 (8 sudden) sotalol group
3 deaths/137 (2 sudden) PC group
(no significant difference)
Zimetbaum
PJ, et al.,
1999 (204)
10072241
Prospective 172
Amiodarone 66
(38%)
Flecainide 45 (26%)
Sotalol 20 (12%)
Disopyramide 16
(9%)
Propafenone 11 (6%)
Quinidine 8 (5%)
Procainamide 6 (4%)
SR Outpatient Pts with AF in sinus at time of
initiation started on oral
antiarrhythmic medication

Received 1 or 2 doses of AAD in
hospital or clinic and monitored for
”��K�DQG�WKHQ����G�FRQWLQXRXV�ORRS�
event recorder

Exlusion: QTc>550 ms, NYHA class
III or IV CHF, or pacemaker
6 symptomatic AEs (none before d 4)

Class Ic
3 atrial flutter with 1:1 d 6 or 7
1 symptomatic brady d 4

Sotalol
1 symptomatic bradycardia d 7
1 QT prolongation 370-520 ms d 4


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 25

Hauser TH, et
al., 2003 (205)
12804730
Prospective 409
Amiodarone 212
(51.8%)
Class Ic 127 (31.1%)
Propafenone 64
(15.6%)
Flecainide 63
(15.4%)
Sotalol 37 (9.0%)
Class IA 33 (8.1%)
Quinidine 8 (2%)
Disopyramide 16
(3.9%)
Procainamide 9
(2.2%)
SR Outpatient Pts with AF in sinus at time of
initiation started on oral AAD with
daily 30 s recording or with Sx
Amiodarone
2 Death (sudden) d 7 and d 9
3 Bradycardia requiring pacemaker d 6, 7, and 8
9 Bradycardia requiring dose reduction

Class Ic
Bradycardia d 7 and d 9 dose reduction

Sotalol – none

Quinidine
Death (sudden) d 3
CTAF, Roy D,
et al., 2000
(179)
10738049
Prospective
open-label
RCT
403
Amiodarone 201
Sotalol 101
Propafenone 101
6LQXV§��� Outpatient Exclusion: QTc>480, bradycardia
<50 bpm
Arrhythmic deaths – 3 amiodarone group (2 had been off
the drug >1 y) and 1 in sotalol/propafenone group

Cardiac arrest due to torsade – propafenone

Serious bradyarrhythmias –
6 amiodarone
7 in sotalol/propafenone group
Time to event after initiation not specified

All events occurred beyond 2 d of drug initiation mostly
bradyarrhythmias
Kochiadakis
GE, et al.,
2004 (187)
15589019
N/A 254
Sotalol 85
Propafenone 86
PC 83
Sinus Inpatient N/A No torsades noted
Sotalol - 3 bradycardia during loading phase
Propafenone – 1 bradycardia, 1 QRS widening
AAD indicates antiarrhythmic drug; AE, adverse event; AF, atrial fibrillation; BID, twice daily; CHF, congestive heart failure; CrCl, creatinine clearance; CTAF, Canadian Trial of Atrial Fibrillation; Hx,
history; ICD, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator; IV, intravenous; NYHA, New York Heart Association; pts, patients; RCT, randomized controlled trial; RR, relative risk; SAFE-T, Sotalol Amiodarone
Atrial Fibrillation Efficacy Trial; SR, sinus rhythm; Sx, symptom; VF, ventricular fibrillation; and VT, ventricular tachycardia.

Data Supplement 14. Upsteam Therapy (Section 6.2.2)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Type/
Size (N)
Intervention vs.
Comparator (n)
Patient Population Endpoints Comments
Primary Endpoint & Results Secondary Endpoint & Results


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 26

ANTIPAF,
Goette A, et al.,
2012 (206)
22157519
Effect of
olmesartan on AF
burden in pts with
paroxysmal AF
and no structural
heart disease
Prospective,
PC-controlled
RCT
Olmesartan 40
mg QD
(214)

PC
(211)
Pts with PAF and no
other indication for ACE
inhibitor or ARB Tx
No difference in the 1°
endpoint of AF burden
(p=0.770)
No difference in QOL, time to 1st
AF recurrence, time to persistent
AF and hospitalizations
In pts with AF (2°
prevention) but
without structural
disease, 1 y of ARB
does not appear to
decrease AF burden
GISSI-AF,
2009 (207)
20435196


N/A Prospective,
PC-controlled,
RCT
Valsartan
(722)

PC (720)
AF and underlying CV
disease, diabetes, or
left atrial enlargement
Co-primary endpoints:
Time to first recurrence of AF,
295 d valsartan, 271 d PC

Proportion of pts who had >1
recurrence of AF>12 mo,
26.9% valsartan, 27.9% PC
OR: 0.95; p=0.66
N/A Tx with valsartan not
associated with
reduced AF
Healey JS, et
al., 2005 (208)
15936615
Systematic review
of all RCT
evaluating the
benefit of trials of
ACE inhibitor and
ARBs in
prevention of AF
Meta-analysis N/A 11 studies included with
56,308 pts
ACE inhibitor and ARB reduced
incidence of AF (RR: 0.28;
p=0.0002)

Reduction in AF greatest in pts
with HF (RR: 0.44; p=0.007)

No significant reduction in pts
with HTN (RR: 0.12; p=0.4)
although 1 study 29% reduction
in pts with LVH (RR: 0.29)
N/A ACE inhibitor and
ARBs appear to be
effective in
prevention of AF
probably limited to
pts with systolic LV
dysfunction or HTN
LVH
J-RHYTHM II,
Yamashita T, et
al., 2011 (208,
209)
21148662
N/A Open label,
RCT
Candesartan

Amlodipine
Pts with PAF (2°
prevention) and HTN
N/A N/A Tx of HTN by
candesartan was
not superior to
amlodipine for
reduction in AF
frequency
Schneider MP,
et al.,
2010 (210)
20488299
N/A Meta-analysis N/A 23 studies included with
87,048 pts
N/A N/A N/A
1° indicates primary; 2°, secondary; ACE, angiotensin-converting enzyme; AF, atrial fibrillation; ANTIPAF, Angiotensin II-Antagonist in Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation; ARB, angiotensin-receptor
blockers; CV, cardiovascular; GISSI-AF, Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell'Infarto Miocardico-Atrial Fibrillation; HF, heart failure; HTN, hypertension; J-RHYTHM, Japanese
Rhythm Management Trial for Atrial Fibrillation; LV, left ventricular; LVH, left ventricular hypertrophy; N/A, not applicable; OR, odds ratio; PAF, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation; PC, placebo; pts, patients;
QD, once daily; QOL, quality of life; RCT, randomized controlled trial; RR, relative risk; and Tx, therapy.



© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 27

Data Supplement 15. AF Catheter Ablation to Maintain Sinus Rhythm (Section 6.3)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study
Type/ Size
(N)
Intervention
vs.
Comparator
(n)
Type of AF Ablation
Technique
Endpoints AF Free at 1 y Crossover
Rate to
RFA
Adverse
Events
Study
Limitations
Primary
Endpoint &
Results
Ablation AAD P value
Krittayaphong
R, et al., 2003
(211)
12866763
To compare
the efficacy
of
amiodarone
to RFA for
maintenanc
e of SR
RCT
(30)
RFA

Amiodarone
Paroxysmal
and
persistent
Circumferen
tial PVI with
anatomic
isolation
Freedom from
AF at 12 mo

79%



40%

0.018 Not stated 1 stroke in RFA
arm

46.7% AE in
amiodarone
arm

Small sample
size, single
center
RAAFT,
Wazni OM, et
al., 2005 (212)
15928285
To
determine
whether PVI
is feasible
as 1st line Tx
for
symptomatic
AF
RCT
(70)
RFA (33)

AAD (37)
Paroxysmal Segmental
PVI with
electrical
isolation
Freedom from
AF at 12 mo
(Any recurrence
of symptomatic
AF or
asymptomatic
AF>15 s)

87% RFA
37% AAD
87% 37% p<0.001

49% Pulmonary vein
stenosis 2 (6%)
in RFA group
N/A
CACAF,
Stabile G, et
al., 2005 (213)
16214831
Compare
RFA to AAD
for
prevention
of AF in pts
who failed
AAD
RCT
(137)
RFA (68)

AAD –
primarily
amiodarone
(69)
Paroxysmal
and
persistent
Circumferen
tial PVI with
anatomic
isolation
Freedom from
AF at 12 mo

55.9% RFA
8.7% AAD
p<0.001
56% 9% p<0.001

57% 4.4% major
complications
RFA
N/A


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 28

Oral H, et al.,
2006 (214)
16908760

Persistent
AF Compare
RFA to AAD
for
prevention
of AF
RCT
(146)
RFA (77)

Cardioversio
n with short-
term
amiodarone
(69)
Persistent Circumferen
tial PVI with
anatomic
isolation
Monthly
freedom from
AF off AAD

74% RFA
58% control
(intention to
treat)
p=0.05

70% RFA
4% control
(on-Tx analysis)
p<0.001




70%





74%



4%
(on-Tx
analysis)


58%
(intention
to treat
analysis)



p<0.001




p=0.05
77% N/A 77% AAD
crossed over
to RFA
APAF
Pappone C, et
al., 2006 (128)
14707026
Paroxysmal
AF
RCT
(198)
RFA (99)

AAD (99)
Paroxysmal Circumferen
tial PVI with
anatomic
isolation
Freedom from
AF at: 12 mo
86% RFA
22% AAD
86% 22% p<0.001 42% RFA: 1 TIA, 1
pericardial
effusion not
requiring
drainage

AAD:
3 proarrhythmia
flecainide,
7 thyroid
disfunction
amiodarone,
11 sexual
dysfunction
sotalol
Single center,
high
crossover
rate (42 of 99,
42%)
A4
Jais P, et al.,
2008 (215)
19029470
Compare
RFA to AAD
in
paroxysmal
AF
RCT
(112)
RFA (53)

AAD (59)
Paroxysmal Circumferen
tial PVI with
electrical
isolation
Freedom from
AF at 12 mo

89% 23% p<0.001 63% RFA: (155
ablation
procedures, 2
tamponade, 2
groin,
hematoma)

AAD: 1
hyperthyroidism
N/A
Forleo GB, et
al., 2009 (216)
19443515
Compare
RFA to AAD
in pts with
RCT (70) RFA (35)

AAD (35)
Paroxysmal
and
persistent
Circumferen
tial PVI with
electrical
N/A 80% 43% p=0.001 Not stated N/A N/A


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 29

diabetes isolation
Thermocool
Wilber DJ, et
al., 2010 (217)
20103757
Compare
RFA to AAD
in
paroxysmal
AF
RCT (167) RFA (106)

AAD (61)
Paroxysmal Circumferen
tial PVI with
electrical
isolation
Freedom from
protocol-defined
Tx failure
(documented
symptomatic
AF, repeat
ablation >80 d
after initial,
changes in drug
regimen post
blanking,
absence of
entrance block)

66% 16% p<0.001 59% 4.9% RFA

8.8% AAD
Catheter
ablation is
more
effective than
medical Tx
alone in
preventing
recurrent Sx
of paroxysmal
AF in pts who
have already
failed Tx with
1 AAD
STOP-AF
Packer DL, et
al., 2013 (218)
23500312
Assess
efficacy of
cryoballoon
catheter
ablation to
AAD Tx in
PAF
RCT
(245)
Cryoballoon
ablation
(163)

AAD
(flecainide,
propafenone
, sotalol)
(82)
Paroxysmal Circumferen
tial PVI with
electrical
isolation
Freedom from
CTF (no
detected AF, no
AF
interventions,
no use of non-
study drugs)
3-mo blanking
period

69.9%
cryoballoon
(57.7% off drug)
vs.
7.3% AAD
(intention to
treat)

60.1% single
ablation (n=98)
70% 7.3% p<0.001 79% All events:
cryoablation
12.3%, AAD
14.6%

Procedure
event rate 6.3%

Phrenic nerve
paralysis 11.2%
(29) with 86.2%
(25) resolved at
12 mo
N/A
RAAFT2
Morillo C, et
al., 2014 (219)
Compare
RFA to AAD
as first-line
therapy for
pts with AF
RCT
(127)
RFA (66)
AAD (61)
Paroxysmal
(98%%)
and
Persistent
Circumferen
tial PVI with
electrical
isolation
AF, atrial flutter,
or atrial
tachycardia >30
s at 24 months
45% 28% p=0.02 47% 9% RFA

5% AAD
>20%
additional
ablation
MANTRA-PAF Compare RCT (294) RFA (146) Symptomati Circumferen Cumulative 13% 19% p=0.10 36% RFA group – 1 No difference


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 30

Cosedis
Nielsen J, et
al., 2012 (220)
23094720
RFA to AAD
as 1st-line Tx
for pts with
AF

AAD (class
Ic or class
III) (148)
c
Paroxysmal
AF prior to
AAD Tx
tial PVI with
voltage
abatement
burden of AF

Per visit burden
at 24 mo

Freedom from
AF at 24 mo


9% AF
burden
at 24 mo

85%


18% AF
burden
at 24
mo71%


p=0.007

p=0.01
death due to
procedural
stroke and 3
tamponade
in cumulative
burden of AF
endpoint and
no difference
in burden at
3, 6, 12 or 18
mo
A4 indicates Catheter Ablation Versus Antiarrhythmic Drugs for Atrial Fibrillation; AAD, antiarrhythmic drug; AE, adverse event; AF, atrial fibrillation; APAF, Ablate and Pace in Atrial Fibrillation;
CACAF, Catheter Ablation for the Cure of Atrial Fibrillation; CTF, chronic treatment failure; N/A, not applicable; PAF, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation; Pt, patient; PVI, pulmonary vein isolation; RAAFT,
Radiofrequency Ablation for Atrial Fibrillation Trial; RCT, randomized controlled trial; RFA, radiofrequency ablation; RR, relative risk; SR, sinus rhythm; STOP-AF, Sustained Treatment of Paroxysmal
Atrial Fibrillation; Sx, symptom; TIA, transient ischemic attack; and Tx, therapy.

Data Supplement 16. Meta-Analyses and Surveys of AF Catheter Ablation (Section 6.3)
Study Name,
Author, Year
Study Aim Study Size
(N)
Patient
Population
Study
Intervention
Endpoints Follow-Up Adverse Events
Bonnano C, et
al., 2010 (221)
19834326
Systematic review
of RCT of RFA vs.
AAD
8 studies (844
pts)
N/A N/A 98 (23.2%) of 421 pts in the Tx group
and 324 (76.6%) of 423 pts in the
control group had atrial
tachyarrhythmia recurrence
N/A N/A
Calkins H, et al.,
2009 (222)
19808490
Systematic review
of radiofrequency
ablation for AF
63 studies
included
(8789 pts)

Mean age 55.5
y

N/A Single-procedure success rate of
ablation off AAD Tx was 57% (95%
CI: 50% to 64%)

Multiple procedure success rate of
AAD was 71% (95% CI: 65% to 77%)

Multiple procedure success rate on
AAD or with unknown AAD usage
was 77% (95% CI: 73% to 81%)
Major complication rate
4.9%

Stroke/TIA 0.5%
Mortality 0.7%
Cardiac tamponade 0.8%
PV stenosis 1.6%
LA/esophageal fistula 0.0%
N/A
Parkash R, et
al., 2011 (223)
21332861
Systematic review
of RCT to assess
optimal technique
for RFA of AF
N/A N/A N/A Freedom from AF after a single
procedure

RFA was found to be favorable in
prevention of AF over AADs in either
paroxysmal (5 studies, RR: 2.26; 95%
CI: 1.74-2.94) or persistent AF (5
studies, RR: 3.20; 95% CI: 1.29-8.41)
Wide-area PVI appeared to
offer the most benefit for
both paroxysmal (6 studies,
RR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.63-
0.97) and persistent AF (3
studies, RR: 0.64; 95% CI:
0.43-0.94)
N/A
Piccini JP, et al.,
2009 (224)
20009077
Meta-analysis of all
RCTs comparing
PVI and medical
Tx for the
N/A N/A N/A Freedom from recurrent AF at 12 mo

PVI was associated with
markedly increased odds of freedom
N/A Among those randomly
assigned to PVI, 17%
required a repeat PVI
ablation before 12 mo. The


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 31

maintenance of
sinus rhythm
from AF at 12 mo of FU (n=266/344
[77%] vs. n=102/346 [29%];
OR: 9.74; 95% CI: 3.98-23.87)
rate of major complications
was 2.6% (n=9/344) in the
catheter ablation group
AAD indicates antiarrhythmic drug; AF, atrial fibrillation; ; FU, follow-up; LA, left atrial; N/A, not applicable; OR, odds ratio; pts, patients; PV, pulmonary vein; PVI, pulmonary vein isolation; RCT,
randomized controlled trial; RFA, radiofrequency ablation; RR, relative risk; TIA, transient ischemic attack; and Tx, therapy.

Data Supplement 17. Specific Patient Groups (Section 7)
Study Aim of study Study Size Patient Population / Inclusion & Exclusion
Criteria
Endpoint(s) Statistical Analysis Reported CI and/or
P values
OR/HR/RR/
Other
Study Conclusion
Roy


D, et al.,
2008 (225)
18565859
To investigate
maintenance of
SR (rhythm
control) with
ventricular rate
control in pts
ZLWK�/9()”����
and Sx of CHF,
and a Hx of AF

1,376 (682
in rhythm-
control
group and
694 in rate-
control
group)


,QFOXVLRQ�FULWHULD��/9()”�����PHDVXUHG�E\�
nuclear imaging, echocardiography, or cardiac
angiography, with testing performed ”6 mo
before enrollment); Hx of CHF (defined as
symptomatic NYHA class II or IV within the
previous 6 mo, asymptomatic condition that pt
had been hospitalized for HF during the previous
6 PR��RU�/9()”�����+[�RI�$)��ZLWK�(.*�
documentation), defined as 1 episode lasting for
•6 h or requiring cardioversion within the
previous 6 mo or an episode lasting for •10 min
within the previous 6 mo and previous electrical
cardioversion for AF; and eligibility for long-term
Tx in either of the 2 study groups

Exclusion criteria: Persistent AF for •12 mo, a
reversible cause of AF or HF, decompensated
HF within 48 h prior to intended randomization,
use of AADs for other arrhythmias, 2nd degree or
3rd degree AVB (bradycardia of <50 bpm), Hx of
the long-QT syndrome, previous ablation of an
AV node, anticipated cardiac transplantation
within 6 mo, renal failure requiring dialysis, lack
of birth control in women of child-bearing
potential, estimated life expectancy of <1 y, and
an age <18 y
1° outcome
was time to
death from
CV causes

The 1° outcome, death from
CV causes, occurred in 182 pts
(27%) in the rhythm-control
group and 175 pts (25%) in the
rate-control group

Death from any cause (32% in
the rhythm-control group and
33% in the rate-control group)

Ischemic or hemorrhagic
stroke 3% and 4%,
respectively

Worsening HF (defined as HF
requiring hospitalization,
administration of an IV diuretic,
or change in Tx strategy)

Composite outcome of death
from CV causes, stroke, or
worsening HF
None of the
2° outcomes
differed
significantly
between the
Tx groups

95% CI:
0.86-1.30;
p=0.53

95% CI:
0.80-1.17;
p=0.73

95% CI:
0.40-1.35;
p=0.32

95% CI:
0.72-1.06;
p=0.17

95% CI:
0.77-1.06;
p=0.20








HR: 1.06



HR: 0.97



HR: 0.74



HR: 0.87



HR: 0.90
The routine strategy of
rhythm control does
not reduce the rate of
death from CV
causes, as compared
with a rate-control
strategy in pts with AF
and CHF



© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 32

AFFIRM,
Olshansky
B, et al.,
(163)
15063430
To evaluate and
compare several
drug classes for
long-term
ventricular rate
control
2027 Inclusion criteria: (All criteria must have been
met). Episode of AF documented on EKG or
rhythm strip within last 6 wk��•�� y or <65 y +
•��FOLQLFDO�ULVN�IDFWRU�IRU�VWURNH��V\VWHPLF�+71��
DM, CHF, TIA, prior cerebral vascular accident,
left atrium •���PP�E\�HFKRFDUGLRJUDP��
fractional shortening <25% by echocardiogram
(unless paced or LBBB present), or LVEF<0.40
by radionuclide ventriculogram, contrast
angiography, or quantitative echocardiography),
duration of AF episodes in last 6 mo must total
•� h, unless electrical and/or pharmacologic
cardioversion was performed prior to 6 h,
duration of continuous AF must be <6 mo,
unless normal SR can be restored and
PDLQWDLQHG�•�� h, in opinion of clinical
investigator, pt (based on clinical and laboratory
evaluation before randomization) must be
eligible for both Tx groups, based on pt Hx, pt
must be HOLJLEOH�IRU�•��AADs (or 2 dose levels of
DPLRGDURQH��DQG�•��UDWH-controlling drugs

Exclusion criteria: Not presented. Based on the
judgment that certain therapies are
contraindicated or inclusion would confound the
result. Criteria included cardiac, other medical,
and nonmedical
Overall rate
control with
various
drugs
(average FU
3.5±1.3 y)
Overall rate control was met in
70% of pts given beta blockers
as the 1st drug (with or without
digoxin), vs. 54% with CCBs
(with or without digoxin), and
58% with digoxin alone

Multivariate analysis revealed
a significant association
between 1st drug class and
several clinical variables,
including gender, Hx of CAD,
pulmonary disease, CHF, HTN,
qualifying episode being the 1st
episode of AF, and baseline
heart rate
N/A N/A In pts with AF, rate
control is possible in
the majority of pts. In
the AFFIRM FU study,
beta blockers were
most effective. The
authors noted frequent
medication changes
and drug combinations
were needed



© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 33

ANDROME
DA, Kober L,
et al., 2008
(171)
18565860


To evaluate the
efficacy of
dronedarone in
reducing
hospitalization
due to CHF in
pts with
symptomatic HF


627



Inclusion criteria: Pts •�� y hospitalized with
QHZ�RU�ZRUVHQLQJ�+)�DQG�ZKR�KDG�•��HSLVRGH�
of SOB on minimal exertion or at rest (NYHA III
or IV) or paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea within
the month before admission

Exclusion criteria: LV wall motion index of >1.2
(approximating an EF of >35%), acute MI within
7 d prior to screening, a heart rate <50 bpm, PR
interval >0.28 s, sinoatrial block or 2nd or 3rd
degree AV block not treated with a pacemaker,
Hx of Torsades de pointes, corrected QT interval
>500 ms, a serum potassium level <3.5 mmol/L,
use of class I or III AADs, drugs known to cause
Torsades de pointes, or potent inhibitors of the
P450 CYP3A4 cytochrome system, other
serious disease, acute myocarditis, constrictive
pericarditis, planned or recent (within the
preceding mo) cardiac surgery or angioplasty,
clinically significant obstructive heart disease,
acute pulmonary edema within 12 h before
randomization, pregnancy or lactation, expected
poor compliance, or participation in another
clinical trial
The 1°
endpoint
was the
composite of
death from
any cause or
hospitalizati
on for HF



After inclusion of 627 pts, the
trial was prematurely
terminated for safety reasons.
A median FU of 2-mo death
occurred in 8.1% of
dronedarone group and 3.8%
of PC group

After additional 6 mo, 42 pts in
dronedarone group (13.5%)
and 39 pts in PC group
(12.3%) died

The 1° endpoint did not differ
significantly between the 2
groups; there were 53 events
in the dronedarone group
(17.1%) and 40 events in the
PC group (12.6%)
p=0.03; 95%
CI: 1.07-
4.25






p=0.60; 95%
CI: 0.73-
1.74



p=0.12; 95%
CI: 0.92-
2.09
HR: 2.13







HR: 1.13




HR: 1.38
Dronedarone
increased early
mortality in pts
recently hospitalized
with symptomatic HF
and depressed LV
function. 96% of
deaths were attributed
to CV causes,
predominantly
progressive HF and
arrhythmias





© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 34

RACE II
Van Gelder
IC, et al.,
2010 (167)
20231232

To investigate if
lenient rate
control is not
inferior to strict
control for
preventing CV
morbidity and
mortality in pts
with permanent
AF

614 Inclusion criteria: Permanent AF up to 12 mo,
DJH�”�� y, mean resting heart rate >80 bpm,
and current use of oral anticoagulation Tx (or
ASA, if no risk factors for thromboembolic
complications present)

Exclusion Criteria: Paroxysmal AF;
contraindications for either strict or lenient rate
control (e.g., previous adverse effects on
negative chronotrophic drugs); unstable HF
defined as NYHA IV HF or HF necessitating
hospital admission <3 mo before inclusion;
cardiac surgery <3 mo; any stroke; current or
foreseen pacemaker, ICD, and/or cardiac
resynchronization Tx; signs of sick sinus
syndrome or AV conduction disturbances (i.e.,
symptomatic bradycardia or asystole >3 s or
escape rate <40 bpm in awake Sx-free pts;
untreated hyperthyroidism or <3 mo
euthyroidism; inability to walk or bike
Composite
of death
from CV
causes,
hospitalizati
on for HF,
and stroke,
SE, bleeding
and life-
threatening
arrhythmic
events. FU
duration 2 y,
with a
maximum of
3 y
1° outcome incidence at 3 y
was 12.9% in the lenient-
control group and 14.9% in the
strict-control group. Absolute
difference with respect to the
lenient-control group of -2.0
percentage points




More pts in the lenient-control
group met the heart rate target
or targets (304 [97.7%] vs. 203
[67.0%] in the strict-control
group)

Frequencies of Sx and AEs
were similar in the 2 groups
Absolute risk
difference, -
2.0%

Absolute risk
difference,
CI: -7.6-3.5;
p<0.001

90% CI:
0.58-1.21;
p=0.001



p<0.001
HR: 0.84 Lenient rate control is
as effective as strict
rate control and easier
to achieve in pts with
permanent AF
Gaita F, et
al., 2007
(226)
17531584
Assess
usefulness and
safety of
transcatheter
ablation of AF in
pts with HCM
26 Pts with HCM with paroxysmal (n=13) or
permanent (n=13) AF refractory to
antiarrhythmic Tx

Characteristics: age 58±11 y, time from AF
onset 7.3±6.2 y, left atrial volume 170±48 mL,
19±10 mo clinical FU
Pulmonary
vein
isolation at
RFCA plus
linear
lesions

64% overall success rate

10 of these 16 success pts
were off AAD Tx at final
evaluation

77% success rate in PAF
compared with 50% in the
subgroup with permanent AF
NYHA FC in
those
achieving
NSR
1.2±0.5 vs.
1.7±0.7
before the
procedure,
p=0.003
N/A RFCA proved a safe
and effective
therapeutic option for
AF, improved
functional status, and
was able to reduce or
postpone the need for
long-term
pharmacologic Tx


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 35

Kilicaslan F,
et al., 2006
(227)
16500298

The purpose of
this study was to
report the
results and
outcome of PV
antrum isolation
in pts with AF
and HOCM
27 27 pts with AF and HOCM who underwent PV
antrum isolation between February 2002 and
May 2004
Mean age 55±10 y
Mean AF duration was 5.4±3.6 y
AF was paroxysmal in 14 (52%), persistent in 9
(33%), and permanent in 4 (15%)
Mean FU of 341±237 d
Maintenance
of sinus
rhythm after
PV antrum
isolation

13 pts (48%) had AF
recurrence

5 of the 13 with recurrence
maintained sinus rhythm with
AADs, 1 of 13 remained in
persistent AF, 7 of 13
underwent a second PV
antrum isolation. After 2nd
ablation: 5 pts remained in SR

Final success rate=70%
(19/27)

2 pts had recurrence after 2nd
ablation; 1 maintained SR with
AADs and 1 remained in
persistent AF
N/A N/A AF recurrence after
the 1st PV antrum
isolation is higher in
pts with HOCM.
However, after
repeated ablation
procedures, long-term
cure can be achieved
in a sizable number of
pts. PV antrum
isolation is a feasible
therapeutic option in
pts with AF and
HOCM
Bunch TJ, et
al., 2008
(228)
18479329
Assess efficacy
of RFCA for
drug-refractory
AF in HCM

32 Consecutive pts (25 male, age 51±11 y) with
HCM underwent PV isolation (n=8) or wide area
circumferential ablation with additional linear
ablation (=25) for drug-refractory AF

Paroxysmal AF=21 (64%) pts had paroxysmal
AF

Persistent/permanent AF=12 (36%) had
persistent/permanent AF

Duration AF=6.2±5.2 y
Average EF=0.63±0.12
Average left atrial volume index was 70±24
mL/m2
FU of 1.5±1.2 y
Survival with
AF
elimination
and AF
control
N/A 1-y survival
with AF
elimination
was 62%
(95% CI:
0.66-0.84)
and with AF
control was
75% (95%
CI: 0.66-
0.84)
N/A AF control was less
likely in pts with a
persistent/chronic AF,
larger left atrial
volumes, and more
advanced diastolic
disease. Additional
linear ablation may
improve outcomes in
pts with severe left
atrial enlargement and
more advanced
diastolic dysfunction. 2
pts had a
periprocedureal TIA, 1
PV stenosis, and 1
died after mitral valve
replacement from
prosthetic valve
thrombosis. QOL
scores improved from
baseline at 3 and 12
mo


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 36

Di Donna P,
et al., 2010
(229)
20173211












Assess the
outcome of a
multicentre
HCM cohort
following RFCA
for symptomatic
AF refractory to
medical Tx
61 Age 54±13 y;
Time from AF onset 5.7±5.5 y
Paroxysmal AF=35; (57%)
Recent persistent AF=15; (25%)
Long-standing persistent AF=11; (18%)
Ablation scheme: pulmonary vein isolation plus
linear lesions
32 of 61 pts, 32 (52%) required redo
procedures.
Antiarrhythmic Tx was maintained in 22 (54%)
FU: 29±16 mo
41 (67%) NSR at FU


N/A In pts in NSR there was
marked improvement in NYHA
class (1.2±0.5 vs. 1.9±0.7 at
baseline; p<0.001).
In pts (33%), with AF
recurrence, there was less
marked, but still significant,
improvement following RFCA
(NYHA class 1.8±0.7 vs.
2.3±0.7 at baseline; p=0.002)

Independent
predictors of
AF
recurrence:
increased
left atrium
volume HR
per unit
increase
1.009, 95%
CI: 1.001-
1.018;
p=0.037,
and NYHA
class (HR:
2.24; 95%
CI: 1.16 to
4.35;
p=0.016)
N/A RFCA was successful
in restoring long-term
sinus rhythm and
improving
symptomatic status in
most HCM pts with
refractory AF,
including the subset
with proven sarcomere
gene mutations,
although redo
procedures were often
necessary. Younger
HCM pts with small
atrial size and mild Sx
proved to be the best
RFCA candidates,
likely due to lesser
degrees of atrial
remodelling
1° indicates primary; 2, secondary; AAD, antiarrhythmic drug; AE, adverse event; AF, atrial fibrillation; AFFIRM, Atrial Fibrillation Follow-up Investigation of Rhythm Management; ANDROMEDA,
European Trial of Dronedarone in Moderate to Severe Congestive Heart Failure; ASA, aspirin; AV, atrioventricular; AVB, atrioventricular block; CAD, coronary artery disease; CCB, calcium channel
blocker; CHF, congestive heart failure; CV, cardiovascular; DM, diabetes mellitus; EF, ejection fraction; EKG, electrocardiogram; FU, follow up; HCM, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; HF, heart failure;
HOCM, hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy; HR, hazard ratio; HTN, hypertension; Hx, history; ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator; IV, intravenous; LBBB, left bundle branch block; LV, left
ventricular; LVEF, left ventricular ejection fraction; N/A, not applicable; NSR, normal sinus rhythm; NYHA, New York Heart Association; pts, patients; PV, pulmonary vein; QOL, quality of life; RACE, Rate
Control Efficacy in Permanent Atrial Fibrillation; RFCA, radio frequency catheter ablation; RR, relative risk; SOB, shortness of breath; SR, sinus rhythm; Sx, symptom; TIA, transient ischemic attack; and
Tx, therapy.


© American College of Cardiology Foundation and American Heart Association, Inc. 37

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