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Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation: Year 2011 Review of Predictive and Preventative Factors of Atrial Fibrillation Post Cardiac Surgery

Background: Post cardiac surgery atrial fibrillation is common after cardiac surgery. Despite the advances in medical and surgical treatment, its incidence remains high and unchanged for decades. The aim of this review was to summarize studies published in 2011 on identifying factors, prevention strategies, treatment and effect of post operative atrial fibrillation (POAF) on the outcome after cardiac surgery.Methods: A review was performed on Medline, Embase and Chocrane on all of the English-language, peer-reviewed published clinical studies on POAF; studies investigating the mechanism of developing POAF, prevention, treatment and outcome were all included and analyzed. Case reports, studies on persistent/preoperative atrial fibrillation (AF), POAF after cardiac transplant, congenital cases and nonclinical studies were all excluded. We have also valuated these studies based on the type of the study, their originality, impact factor of the journal and their limitations. Results: Overall 62 studies were reviewed and analyzed; 26 on POAF predictive factors, 31 on preventative strategies and 6 on the outcome of POAF. Of these studies only two were original and the remaining were either performed in AF in general population (n=10) or had been studied and reported several times before in cardiac surgery (n=50). The average impact factor of the journals that were reviewed was only 2.8 ranging between 0.5 and 14.5. Conclusions: Post cardiac surgery atrial fibrillation is a multi-factorial and complex condition. Cardiac surgery may be a risk factor for developing POAF in patients already susceptible to this condition and may not be a complication of cardiac surgery. Future studies should mainly focus on histological changes in the conductive tissue of atrium and related treatment strategies rather than predictive factors of POAF and more funding should be made available to study this condition from new and entirely different perspectives.

Credits: Saina Attaran MRCS; Prakash P Punjabi; Jon Anderson FRCS

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Introduction to AFib
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