Patient Care

AHA/ACC Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines Updated


Clinical question: What new recommendations are made in the AHA/ACC/HRS atrial fibrillation guidelines?

Background: This is the AHA’s first comprehensive update on atrial fibrillation since 2006; there were two intervening focused updates in 2011.

Synopsis: The majority of the new recommendations center on patient selection for anticoagulation and the role of the new oral anticoagulants.

CHA2DS2-VASc is now recommended over CHADS2 for evaluation of stroke risk, with anticoagulation recommended for a score of two or greater, or for a patient with any prior history of stroke or transient ischemic attack.

Warfarin, direct thrombin inhibitors, or factor Xa inhibitors may be considered in patients with normal renal function. Reduced doses of these medications may be considered in patients with moderate to severe renal dysfunction but have not been studied in clinical trials.

Warfarin remains the drug of choice for patients on hemodialysis and those with hemodynamically significant mitral stenosis or aortic valve replacement.

The clinical utility of bleeding risk scores remains insufficient for formal recommendations. There is sparse evidence on which to base recommendations for bridging, but additional studies, such as the BRIDGE trial, are ongoing. A liberal rate control strategy targeting heart rates <110 in asymptomatic patients with preserved systolic function is reasonable; ideal rate control targets remain controversial.

Citation: 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 [published online ahead of print April 10, 2014]. Circulation.

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