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Atrial Fibrillation and Arrhythmia

Stroke Prevention for Patients with
Non-Valvular Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation (AF or Afib) is the most commonly encountered arrhythmia in clinical practice and one of the most common primary and secondary inpatient diagnoses. AF increases the risk of stroke across all age groups and is associated with heart failure and other heart-related complications.

  • AF-related strokes tend to be more severe, disabling and fatal than strokes from other causes, placing a heavy burden on patients, families and healthcare services.
  • Heart failure and AF frequently co-exist since they share several antecedent risk factors.
  • AF can also precipitate acute heart failure and may facilitate the progression of cardiomyopathy.

Addressing Outcomes through Inpatient Quality Improvement

The American College of Cardiology Foundation, American Heart Association and Heart Rhythm Society (ACCF/AHA/HRS) collaborative task force recommends that AF be managed through three non-mutually exclusive methods: rate control, prevention of thromboembolism and correction of abnormal rhythm disturbance.

SHM offers an atrial fibrillation implementation guide to promote evidence-based management of AF-associated stroke risk during hospitalization and post-discharge care transitions. It can help you and your health system improve care for AF patients through inpatient quality improvement (QI) initiatives, including: 

  • Recognition of AF and workup of new diagnoses
  • Management of patients with known AF
  • Rate versus rhythm-control strategies
  • Recognition of the need for cardiology consultation
  • Assessment of stroke risk
  • Use of antithrombotic therapy for stroke prevention when indicated
  • Facilitation of handoffs from inpatient to outpatient care providers
  • Patient education
  • Tracking of AF outcomes

Additional resources compiled from other societies and organizations on Afib can be found within the Implementation Guide on pages 58-59. 

Questions on the Afib Guide? Contact SHM. 

Download Guide

The Atrial Fibrillation Implementation Guide is sponsored in part by a grant from Boehringer Ingelheim.