Recent advances in the non-surgical management of atrial fibrillation

Int J Clin Pract. 1999 Jan-Feb;53(1):44-9.


Atrial fibrillation is the commonest clinical arrhythmia, and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The treatment of choice is to restore and maintain sinus rhythm. Although certain antiarrhythmic drugs are more effective than placebo in maintaining sinus rhythm, recurrence of atrial fibrillation post cardioversion remains common. The use of antiarrhythmic drugs can be associated with serious adverse effects due to their negative inotropic and proarrhythmic effects. Radiofrequency ablation of the AV junction is a safe and effective palliative treatment option in patients who have failed drug therapy. Ventricular rate control without the need for permanent pacing can be achieved by AV nodal modification using radiofrequency energy. There is also interest in the role of catheter ablation as a possible curative procedure for atrial fibrillation. Atrial pacing can reduce the incidence of atrial fibrillation in certain subgroups of patients. Finally, low energy intracardiac atrial defibrillation has been shown to be feasible in humans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy*
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial / methods
  • Catheter Ablation / methods
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents