Atrial Fibrillation: Recognition and Management to Improve Quality of Life
Explore the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for atrial fibrillation. Broadening your understanding and knowledge of this medical condition can help increase the likelihood of early A-fib detection in patients. Earn CNE credits while learning more about atrial fibrillation.
In 2021, between 2.7 and 6.1 million Americans experienced atrial fibrillation, which the European Society of Cardiology defines as a “supraventricular tachyarrhythmia with uncoordinated atrial electrical activation and consequently ineffective atrial contraction.” Underlying conditions (such as hypertension or heart failure) alter the conduction system, which can result in atrial fibrillation. In patients with atrial fibrillation, the SA node no longer initiates the electrical impulse. Instead, it originates outside the SA node, generated by the pulmonary veins in the left atrium. As a result, the atria contract in a disorganized fashion, causing them to quiver or fibrillate. When the disorganized signals transmit to the ventricles, they contract irregularly and sometimes quickly. Ineffective atria contraction causes blood to pool in the atria, increasing the patient’s risk for stroke. Nurses can aid early recognition and treatment of atrial fibrillation to prevent adverse outcomes.
Key Learning Outcomes
- Describe atrial fibrillation and associated patient symptoms.
- Describe management of atrial fibrillation.
- Describe how nurses can aid early recognition and treatment of atrial fibrillation to prevent adverse outcomes.
Kayla Little, MSN, APRN, AGCNS-BC, PCCN
Kayla Little is a clinical nurse specialist in the cardiovascular medicine step-down, vascular surgery step-down, and heart and lung transplant step-down units at Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.