Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common arrhythmia, and its prevalence increases with aging and the severity of heart disease. AF affects more than 2 million people in the US, and more than 4 million in Europe. It is expected that the age adjusted prevalence in US will excede 10 million people by the year 2050 . In the last decade, we were able to see the light shed by several trials that dealt with AF mechanisms and the appropriate management of AF patients. Clinical studies have focused mainly on the electrophysiological properties of the substrate in the atrial muscle during sinus rhythm and on the atrial electrical responses elicited by premature stimulation method . However, many fundamental aspects of this arrhythmia have been poorly understood until quite recently, and there are several features on the mechanisms of AF that makes it difficult to manage it properly. Increasing awareness of AF as a disease with possible fatal complications rather than as an acceptable alternative to sinus rhythm has led to search for clear arguments to support a certain strategy as a gold standard.
Credits: Osmar Antonio Centurión, MD, PhD, FACC