Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines Relax – a Little

Ask the experts about atrial fibrilation

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People who’ve been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) may wonder how fast or slow their heart should be beating. The American College of Cardiology Foundation, the American Heart Association, and the Heart Rhythm Society have come up with an answer. It is part of their recently updated guidelines for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF).

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The new guidelines are actually less strict. The old guidelines said that AF patients and their physicians should shoot for a heart rate of 80 beats per minute at rest, and less than 110 beats per minute during exercise (a six-minute walk). The new guidelines call for a resting heart rate of 110 beats per minute in patients without other complicating factors.

Physicians who have been prescribing medications and other treatments to hold AF patients’ heart rates to the lower rates, may now reconsider, and prescribe fewer medications for some patients. Lower meds mean fewer side effects, so these new guidelines will be a plus for many.


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