Evaluation and management of atrial fibrillation in the emergency department

Emerg Med Clin North Am. 1998 May;16(2):389-403. doi: 10.1016/s0733-8627(05)70008-0.


AF is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia. Recognition and appropriate management of AF is important to optimize care of concurrent medical problems and prevent long-term consequences. DC cardioversion under sedation should be performed in patients with pulmonary edema, angina, or hypotension. Ventricular rate control is the first choice in stable patients with rapid ventricular rate. Anticoagulation should be considered in all patients with AF duration < 48 hours, except for those under 65 years old and having no other risk factors of stroke. Recent data imply that early attempts at cardioversion may increase success rates and decrease AF recurrence rates. Thus, transesophageal echocardiogram-guided early cardioversion may become more widely used.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Atrial Fibrillation / diagnosis
  • Atrial Fibrillation / therapy*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use
  • Electric Countershock*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Calcium Channel Blockers