Srpski arhiv za celokupno lekarstvo 2010 Volume 138, Issue 1-2, Pages: 98-104
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Hundred years of atrial fibrillation: Current knowledge and perspectives

Potpara Tatjana, Grujić Miodrag

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia in general population. AF in humans was first described in 1903. Gradually, it has been well appreciated that AF is not just an acceptable alternative for normal rhythm but rather a serious threat, related to increased mortality and cardiovascular morbidity. AF can precipitate or worsen pre-existing heart failure, may cause the development of tachycardiomyopathy and is an independent risk factor for thromboembolic events, most frequently stroke. It has long been believed that rhythm control is the best therapy for AF. Nowadays there is a clear scientific proof that rhythm control offers no benefit over frequency control, at least for older patients, even with advanced left ventricular dysfunction. However, optimal treatment for younger, highly symptomatic, otherwise healthy AF patients has not been designed. Available antiarrhythmics have considerable proarrhythmic potential or organ toxicity, and new safer drugs are under investigation. Nonpharmacological approaches, namely RF-catheter ablation, are rapidly developing. Prevention of thromboembolism is imperative, and new safer oral anticoagulants have been intensively investigated. Recent randomized studies (PIAF, RACE, STAF, AFFIRM, HOT-CAFE) did not solve the issue of optimal arrhythmia treatment, but they emphasized the prevention of thromboembolism based on risk factors, and not on AF type, mainly because asymptomatic episodes of AF may not be clinically recognized.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation, thromboembolism, rhythm control, frequency control

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