The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm Society, in collaboration with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, developed the new guidelines after experts reviewed clinical findings, researched results and many other documents. Experts updated the previous document in 2011. Some of the changes in this document are minor; others are important improvements in treatment in keeping with all the current medical evidence.
It gives important directions to doctors treating Atrial fibrillation who may be adding new blood thinning drug options, using less aspirin and more radio frequency ablation to treat atrial fibrillation patients. “This is an important document for doctors treating atrial fibrillation,” Said Vijay Swarup, MD FHRS, Director of Arizona Heart Rhythm Center. “It summarizes current medical evidence and to the doctors it gives important direction” he said.
The 2014 guidelines for treatment of atrial fibrillation has a few expected changes.
1. There is increased emphasis on use of radio frequency ablation for non-valvular atrial fibrillation
In an ablation procedure, doctors create scars that block any inappropriate impulses which trigger atrial fibrillation. “This document summarizes all the data we have and all the evidence in the literature about use of heart ablations for treating atrial fibrillation. Ablations are likely to benefit larger subset of patients with atrial fibrillation who are not satisfactorily treated with medications”.
2. Inclusion of three new anticoagulant drugs in the treatment of non-valvular atrial fibrillation
Previous guidelines recommended only warfarin. The new drugs, dabigatran, rivaroxaban and apixaban, might have benefits for certain patients. “Evidence and studies show some of these new anticoagulants are as effective but safer from an intracranial bleeding standpoint.
3. A diminished role of aspirin as a preventive treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation
“Aspirin is not very effective in stroke prevention and it can cause bleeding” Said Dr. Swarup.
4. Use of CHA2DS2-VASc score for risk stratification: to help determine the 1 year risk of a thrombo-embolic event (Stroke risk) in a non-anticoagulated patient with non-valvular AF. The new score incorporates some more information about the patient into the risk calculator.
2014 ACC/AHA Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines (PDF)
About Arizona Heart Rhythm Center
Arizona Heart Rhythm Center has a dedicated team of professionals focusing on heart rhythm abnormalities. Each patient is treated as an individual with specific needs and emotional responses to his or her symptoms and concerns. Patients and staff work together as partners in the task of restoring good health and quality of life. For more information, visit www.azheartrhythmcenter.com.