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Atrial fibrillation complicating congestive heart failure: Electrophysiological aspects and its deleterious effect on cardiac resynchronization therapy

More successful recognition and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors and diseases continues to decrease mortality and increase the proportion of elderly population. Therefore, there are more people with increased risk of developing heart failure and atrial fibrillation in the course of their lives. Atrial fibrillation (AF) can complicate the course of congestive heart failure (HF) leading to acute pulmonary edema. The prevalence of AF, in patients with heart failure, increases with the severity of the disease, reaching up to 40% in advanced cases. In these HF patients, AF is an independent predictor of morbidity and mortality increasing the risk of death and hospitalization. Despite the excellent results obtained with different drugs, the optimal medical treatment can fail in the intention to improve symptoms and quality of life of patients with severe HF. Thus, the necessity to use cardiac devices emerges facing the failure of optimal medical treatment in order to achieve hemodynamic improvement and correction of the physiopathological alterations. Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) can reduce the interventricular and intraventricular mechanical dissynchrony in HF patients. It has been shown that CRT increases the left ventricular filling time, decreases septal disquinesia, mitral regurgitation, and left ventricular volumes allowing a hemodynamic improvement. However, the development of AF in this setting can avoid the beneficial effects of CRT. Therefore, this manuscript will review the available data on this topic to determine what can be done in the event of an AF complicating congestive HF in CRT patients.

Credits: Osmar Antonio Centurión MD, PhD, FACC

Biosense Webster
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Introduction to AFib
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