Atrial Fibrillation Through the Years
Contemporary Evaluation and Management
- antiarrhythmia agents
- atrial fibrillation
- catheter ablation
- heart failure
Information about a real patient is presented in stages (boldface type) to an expert clinician (Dr Valentin Fuster), who responds to the information, sharing his reasoning with the reader (regular type). A discussion by the authors follows.
A 61-year-old man presents with 2 weeks of exertional dyspnea. Pertinent medical history includes hypertension, nephrolithiasis, and internal hemorrhoids. He takes no medications and has no known drug allergies. His father died after a myocardial infarction at 57 years of age. He formerly smoked 1 pack of cigarettes daily for 15 years but ceased tobacco use 10 years before presentation. He ingests 2 glasses of alcohol weekly and denies illicit drug use. His caffeine intake is limited. He is an architect and is married, with healthy children.
On physical examination, his temperature is 98.0°F, blood pressure is 130/85 mm Hg bilaterally, pulse is irregular at 130 beats per minute, and respiratory rate is 18 breaths per minute with an oxygen saturation of 97% while breathing room air. He is a slender white man in no distress. His jugular venous pressure is elevated at 14 cm H2O. There is no thyromegaly, and the carotid upstrokes are brisk, without bruits. Cardiovascular examination reveals a rapid and irregular heart rhythm with variation in the intensity of the first heart sound. The point of maximal impulse is not displaced. The remainder of the chest and abdominal examination is within normal limits. The extremities are warm and show mild pitting edema. Laboratory testing is significant for normal renal function and electrolytes, but a hemogram reveals a mild thrombocytopenia of 90 000 platelets/μL. ECG demonstrates atrial fibrillation (AF) with an average ventricular rate of 123 bpm (Figure 1).
Dr Valentin Fuster: This is a …