Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common complication in patients with atrial septal defects (ASDs). The link between AF and ASD is fairly complex and entails modifications in electrophysiologic, contractile and structural properties, at the cellular and tissue level, of both atria, mainly due to chronic atrial stretch and dilation. Surgical repair or transcatheter closure of ASDs are equally effective in reducing mortality and symptoms but limited in preventing or curbing AF, unless combined with an arrhythmia-specific procedure. Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) have improved the safety and success of the above procedures. Finally, clearer understanding of the pathophysiology of AF in patients with ASD (and CHF, in general) has led to target-specific advances in medical management.
Credits: George E.Blake, MD; Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, MD