is always better than treatment

Atrial fibrilltion (AF, A-Fib)

Clinical trial report

of the OSTAR heart spectrum blood pressure monitor

The clinical trial report showed that applying the heart spctrum technology, the OSTAR heart spectrum blood pressure monitor can be effectively applied for detection of AF (Atrial fibrillation), with the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV), and negative predictive value (NPV) all in the range of 90% to 100%.


Assessment of the clinical efficacy of the heart spectrum blood pressure monitor for diagnosis of atrial fibrillation: An unblinded clinical trial

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia. The most common diagnostic method, 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG), can record episodes of arrhythmia from which the type and severity can be determined. The Heart Spectrum Blood Pressure Monitor (P2; OSTAR Meditech Corp., New Taipei City, Taiwan) is used to measure cardiovascular pressure change with fast Fourier transform (FFT) analysis to obtain heart rate frequency variability and accurate blood pressure data. We compared the diagnostic efficacy of the Heart Spectrum Blood Pressure Monitor to a 12-lead ECG (gold standard) for patients with AF. Three measurement methods were used in this study to analyze the heart index and compare the results with simultaneous 12-lead ECG: blood pressure; mean arterial pressure, which was calculated from individual blood pressure as a constant pressure; and a constant pressure of 60 mmHg. The physician used a 12-lead ECG and the Heart Spectrum Blood Pressure Monitor simultaneously.

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Quelle: Wikipedia

The atrial fibrillation (AF, A-fib)

- it is a type of supraventricular tachycardia

Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) characterized by the rapid and irregular beating of the atrial chambers of the heart. It often begins as short periods of abnormal beating, which become longer or continuous over time. It may also start as other forms of arrhythmia such as atrial flutter that then transform into AF. Often episodes have no symptoms. Occasionally there may be heart palpitations, fainting, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, or chest pain. The disease is associated with an increased risk of heart failure, dementia, and stroke.

High blood pressure and valvular heart disease are the most common alterable risk factors for AF. Other heart-related risk factors include heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and congenital heart disease. Healthcare professionals may suspect AF by feeling the pulse and confirm the diagnosis by interpreting an electrocardiogram (ECG). A typical ECG in AF shows no P waves and an irregular ventricular rate.

Healthy lifestyle changes, such as weight loss in people with obesity, increased physical activity, and drinking less alcohol, can lower the risk for atrial fibrillation and reduce its burden if it occurs. AF is often treated with medications to slow the heart rate to a near-normal range (known as rate control) or to convert the rhythm to normal sinus rhythm (known as rhythm control). Electrical cardioversion can convert AF to normal heart rhythm and is often necessary for emergent use if the person is unstable.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common serious abnormal heart rhythm and, as of 2020, affects more than 33 million people worldwide. As of 2014, it affected about 2 to 3% of the population of Europe and North America. This was an increase from 0.4 to 1% of the population around 2005. In the developing world, about 0.6% of males and 0.4% of females are affected. The percentage of people with AF increases with age with 0.1% under 50 years old, 4% between 60 and 70 years old, and 14% over 80 years old being affected.


The normal electrical conduction system of the heart allows electrical impulses generated by the heart's own pacemaker (the sinoatrial node) to spread to and stimulate the muscular layer of the heart (myocardium) in both the atria and the ventricles. When the myocardium is stimulated it contracts, and if this occurs in an orderly manner allows blood to be pumped to the body. In AF, the normal regular electrical impulses generated by the sinoatrial node are overwhelmed by disorganized electrical waves, usually originating from the roots of the pulmonary veins. These disorganized waves conduct intermittently through the atrioventricular node, leading to irregular activation of the ventricles that generate the heartbeat.

Signs and symptoms

AF is usually accompanied by symptoms related to a rapid heart rate. Rapid and irregular heart rates may be perceived as the sensation of the heart beating too fast, irregularly, or skipping beats (palpitations) or exercise intolerance and occasionally may produce anginal chest pain (if the high heart rate causes the heart's demand for oxygen to increase beyond the supply of available oxygen (ischemia)). Other possible symptoms include congestive heart failure symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, or swelling. The abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) is sometimes only identified with the onset of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). It is not uncommon for a person to first become aware of AF from a routine physical examination or ECG, as it often does not cause symptoms.

Since most cases of AF are secondary to other medical problems, the presence of chest pain or angina, signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) such as weight loss and diarrhea, and symptoms suggestive of lung disease can indicate an underlying cause. A history of stroke or TIA, as well as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, or rheumatic fever, may indicate whether someone with AF is at a higher risk of complications.

Rapid heart rate

Presentation is similar to other forms of rapid heart rate and may be asymptomatic. Palpitations and chest discomfort are common complaints. The rapid uncoordinated heart rate may result in reduced output of blood pumped by the heart (cardiac output), resulting in inadequate blood flow, and therefore oxygen delivery to the rest of the body. Common symptoms of uncontrolled atrial fibrillation may include shortness of breath, shortness of breath when lying flat, dizziness, and sudden onset of shortness of breath during the night.

AF can cause respiratory distress due to congestion in the lungs. By definition, the heart rate will be greater than 100 beats per minute. Blood pressure may be variable, and often difficult to measure as the beat-by-beat variability causes problems for most digital (oscillometric) non-invasive blood pressure monitors.


AF is linked to several forms of cardiovascular disease but may occur in otherwise normal hearts. Cardiovascular factors known to be associated with the development of AF include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, mitral valve stenosis (e.g., due to rheumatic heart disease or mitral valve prolapse), mitral regurgitation, left atrial enlargement, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), pericarditis, congenital heart disease, and previous heart surgery. Congenital heart disease is a strong risk factor for developing atrial fibrillation—a 20-year-old adult with congenital heart disease has a comparable lifetime risk of developing atrial fibrillation when compared to a 55-year-old adult with no history of congenital heart disease. People with congenital heart disease tend to develop atrial fibrillation at a younger age, that is more likely to be of right atrial origin (atypical) than of left origin, and have a greater risk of progressing to permanent atrial fibrillation.

Additionally, lung diseases (such as pneumonia, lung cancer, pulmonary embolism, and sarcoidosis) may play a role in certain people. Sepsis also increases the risk of developing new-onset atrial fibrillation.[26][27] Disorders of breathing during sleep, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), are also associated with AF.[28] Obesity is a risk factor for AF. Hyperthyroidism and subclinical hyperthyroidism are associated with AF development.


A family history of AF may increase the risk of AF. A study of more than 2,200 people found an increased risk factor for AF of 1.85 for those that had at least one parent with AF. Various genetic mutations may be responsible.

Four types of genetic disorder are associated with atrial fibrillation:

  • Familial AF as a monogenic disease
  • Familial AF presenting in the setting of another inherited cardiac disease (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, familial amyloidosis)
  • Inherited arrhythmic syndromes (congenital long QT syndrome, short QT syndrome, Brugada syndrome)
  • Non-familial AF associated with genetic backgrounds (polymorphism in the ACE gene) that may predispose to atrial fibrillation

Family history in a first degree relative is associated with a 40% increase in risk of AF.

Sedentary lifestyle

A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk factors associated with AF, such as obesity, hypertension, or diabetes mellitus. This favors remodeling processes of the atrium due to inflammation or alterations in the depolarization of cardiomyocytes by elevation of sympathetic nervous system activity. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of AF compared to physical activity. In both men and women, the practice of moderate exercise reduces the risk of AF progressively; intense sports may increase the risk of developing AF, as seen in athletes. It is due to a remodeling of cardiac tissue, and an increase in vagal tone, which shortens the effective refractory period (ERP) favoring re-entries from the pulmonary veins.

High blood pressure

According to the CHARGE Consortium, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure are predictors of the risk of AF. Systolic blood pressure values close to normal limit the increase in the risk associated with AF. Diastolic dysfunction is also associated with AF, which increases left atrial pressure, left atrial volume, size, and left ventricular hypertrophy, characteristic of chronic hypertension. All atrial remodeling is related to heterogeneous conduction and the formation of re-entrant electric conduction from the pulmonary veins.

Other diseases

There is a relationship between risk factors such as obesity and hypertension, with the appearance of diseases such as diabetes mellitus and sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome, specifically, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). These diseases are associated with an increased risk of AF due to their remodeling effects on the left atrium.


The European Society of Cardiology (ESC), the American College of Cardiology (ACC), and the American Heart Association (AHA), recommend in their guidelines the following classification system based on simplicity and clinical relevance.

All people with AF are initially in the category called first detected AF. These people may or may not have had previous undetected episodes. If a first detected episode stops on its own in less than seven days and then another episode begins, later on, the category changes to paroxysmal AF. Although people in this category have episodes lasting up to seven days, in most cases of paroxysmal AF, the episodes will stop in less than 24 hours. If the episode lasts for more than seven days, it is unlikely to stop on its own and is then known as persistent AF. In this case, cardioversion can be used to stop the episode. If cardioversion is unsuccessful, or not attempted and the episode continues for a long time (e.g., a year or more), the person's AF is then known as permanent.

Episodes that last less than 30 seconds are not considered in this classification system. Also, this system does not apply to cases where the AF is a secondary condition that occurs in the setting of a primary condition that may be the cause of the AF.

About half of people with AF have permanent AF, while a quarter has paroxysmal AF, and a quarter has persistent AF.


The evaluation of atrial fibrillation involves a determination of the cause of the arrhythmia, and classification of the arrhythmia. Diagnostic investigation of AF typically includes a complete history and physical examination, ECG, transthoracic echocardiogram, complete blood count, and serum thyroid stimulating hormone level.


Limited evidence suggests that screening for atrial fibrillation in those 65 years and older increases the number of cases of atrial fibrillation detected. A Scottish inquiry into atrial fibrillation estimated that as many as one-third of people with AF are undiagnosed. Despite this, in 2018, the United States Preventive Services Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the usefulness of routine screening.

Minimal evaluation

In general, the minimal evaluation of atrial fibrillation should be performed in all individuals with AF. The goal of this evaluation is to determine the general treatment regimen for the individual. If the results of the general evaluation warrant it, further studies may then be performed.

History and physical examination

The history of the individual's atrial fibrillation episodes is probably the most important part of the evaluation. Distinctions should be made between those who are entirely asymptomatic when they are in AF (in which case the AF is found as an incidental finding on an ECG or physical examination) and those who have gross and obvious symptoms due to AF and can pinpoint whenever they go into AF or revert to sinus rhythm.

Routine bloodwork

While many cases of AF have no definite cause, it may be the result of various other problems. Hence, kidney function and electrolytes are routinely determined, as well as thyroid-stimulating hormone (commonly suppressed in hyperthyroidism and of relevance if amiodarone is administered for treatment) and a blood count.


Atrial fibrillation is diagnosed on an electrocardiogram (ECG), an investigation performed routinely whenever an irregular heartbeat is suspected. Characteristic findings are the absence of P waves, with disorganized electrical activity in their place, and irregular R–R intervals due to irregular conduction of impulses to the ventricles.[21] At very fast heart rates, atrial fibrillation may look more regular, which may make it more difficult to separate from other supraventricular tachycardias or ventricular tachycardia.

If paroxysmal AF is suspected, but an ECG during an office visit shows only a regular rhythm, AF episodes may be detected and documented with the use of ambulatory Holter monitoring (e.g., for a day). If the episodes are too infrequent to be detected by Holter monitoring with reasonable probability, then the person can be monitored for longer periods (e.g., a month) with an ambulatory event monitor.


In general, a non-invasive transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is performed in newly diagnosed AF, as well as if there is a major change in the person's clinical state. This ultrasound-based scan of the heart may help identify valvular heart disease (which may greatly increase the risk of stroke and alter recommendations for the appropriate type of anticoagulation), left and right atrial size (which predicts the likelihood that AF may become permanent), left ventricular size and function, peak right ventricular pressure (pulmonary hypertension), presence of left atrial thrombus (low sensitivity), presence of left ventricular hypertrophy and pericardial disease.

Significant enlargement of both the left and right atria is associated with long-standing atrial fibrillation and, if noted at the initial presentation of atrial fibrillation, suggests that the atrial fibrillation is likely to be of a longer duration than the individual's symptoms.

Extended evaluation

In general, an extended evaluation is not necessary for most individuals with atrial fibrillation and is performed only if abnormalities are noted in the limited evaluation, if a reversible cause of the atrial fibrillation is suggested, or if further evaluation may change the treatment course.

Chest X-ray

In general, a chest X-ray is performed only if a pulmonary cause of atrial fibrillation is suggested, or if other cardiac conditions are suspected (in particular congestive heart failure). This may reveal an underlying problem in the lungs or the blood vessels in the chest. In particular, if an underlying pneumonia is suggested, then treatment of the pneumonia may cause the atrial fibrillation to terminate on its own.

Transesophageal echocardiogram

A regular echocardiogram (transthoracic echo/TTE) has a low sensitivity for identifying blood clots in the heart. If this is suspected (e.g., when planning urgent electrical cardioversion), a transesophageal echocardiogram/TEE (or TOE where British spelling is used) is preferred.

The TEE has much better visualization of the left atrial appendage than transthoracic echocardiography.[64] This structure, located in the left atrium, is the place where a blood clot forms in more than 90% of cases in non-valvular (or non-rheumatic) atrial fibrillation.[65][66] TEE has a high sensitivity for locating thrombi in this area and can also detect sluggish blood flow in this area that is suggestive of blood clot formation.

If a blood clot is seen on TEE, then cardioversion is contraindicated due to the risk of stroke, and anticoagulation is recommended.

Ambulatory Holter monitoring

A Holter monitor is a wearable ambulatory heart monitor that continuously monitors the heart rate and heart rhythm for a short duration, typically 24 hours. In individuals with symptoms of significant shortness of breath with exertion or palpitations regularly, a Holter monitor may be of benefit to determine whether rapid heart rates (or unusually slow heart rates) during atrial fibrillation are the cause of the symptoms.

Exercise stress testing

Some individuals with atrial fibrillation do well with normal activity but develop shortness of breath with exertion. It may be unclear whether the shortness of breath is due to a blunted heart rate response to exertion caused by excessive atrioventricular node-blocking agents, a very rapid heart rate during exertion, or other underlying conditions such as chronic lung disease or coronary ischemia. An exercise stress test will evaluate the individual's heart rate response to exertion and determine if the AV node blocking agents are contributing to the symptoms.


Prevention of atrial fibrillation focuses primarily on preventing or controlling its risk factors. Many of its risk factors, such as obesity, smoking, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption, are modifiable and preventable with lifestyle modification or can be managed by a healthcare professional.

Lifestyle modification

Several healthy lifestyle behaviors are associated with a lower likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation. Accordingly, consensus guidelines recommend abstaining from alcohol and recreational drugs, stopping tobacco use, maintaining a healthy weight, and regularly participating in moderate-intensity physical activities. Consistent moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, defined as achieving 3.0-5.9 METs of intensity, for at least 150 minutes per week may reduce the risk of developing new-onset atrial fibrillation. Few studies have examined the role of specific dietary changes and how it relates to the prevention of atrial fibrillation.


The main goals of treatment are to prevent circulatory instability and stroke. Rate or rhythm control is used to achieve the former, whereas anticoagulation is used to decrease the risk of the latter.[69] If cardiovascularly unstable due to uncontrolled tachycardia, immediate cardioversion is indicated.[21] Many antiarrhythmics, when used long term, increase the risk of death without any meaningful benefit.