Atrial Fibrillation

  1. General information
    1. An arrhythmia in which ectopic foci cause rapid, irregular contractions of the heart
    2. Commonly seen in clients with rheumatic mitral stenosis, thyrotoxicosis, cardiomyopathy, hypertensive heart disease, pericarditis, and coronary heart disease
  2. Assessment findings
    1. Rate
      1. Atrial: 350-600 beats/minute
      2. Ventricular: varies between 100-160 beats/minute
    2. Rhythm: atrial and ventricular regularly irregular
    3. P wave: no definite P wave; rapid undulations called fibrillatory (f) waves
    4. P-R interval: not measurable
    5. QRS complex: generally normal
  3. Treatment: digitalis preparations, propranolol, verapamil in conjunction with digitalis; direct-current cardioversion

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