Introduction: Management of atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter (AFF) in the emergency department (ED) varies greatly, and there are currently no United States guidelines to guide management with regard to patient disposition after ED treatment. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the literature for decision aids to guide disposition of patients with AFF in the ED, and assess potential outcomes associated with different management strategies in the ED.
Methods and Results: A systematic review was done using PubMed (MEDLINE), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), and EMBASE, combining the search terms “Atrial Fibrillation”, “Atrial Flutter”, “Emergency Medicine”, “Emergency Service”, and “Emergency Treatment”. After removal of duplicates, 754 articles were identified. After initial screening of titles and abstracts, 69 full text articles were carefully reviewed and 34 articles were ultimately included in the study based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. The articles were grouped into four main categories: decision aids and outcome predictors, electrical cardioversion-based protocols, antiarrhythmic-based protocols, and general management protocols.
Conclusion: This systematic review is the first study to our knowledge to evaluate the optimal management of symptomatic AFF in the ED with a direct impact on ED disposition. There are several viable management strategies that can result in safe discharge from the ED in the right patient population, and decision aids can be utilized to guide selection of appropriate patients for discharge.
Credits: Justin L. Vandermolen, MD Murrium I. Sadaf, MD Anil K. Gehi, MD