What is the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation (Afib) (AF)?

Updated: Apr 09, 2019
  • Author: Lawrence Rosenthal, MD, PhD, FACC, FHRS; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD  more...
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Answer

Although the precise mechanisms that cause atrial fibrillation are incompletely understood, AF appears to require both an initiating event and a permissive atrial substrate. The importance of focal pulmonary vein triggers has been highlighted in multiple studies, but alternative and nonmutually exclusive mechanisms have also been evaluated. [19] These mechanisms include multiple wavelets, mother waves, fixed or moving rotors, and macro-reentrant circuits. [19] In a given patient, multiple mechanisms may coexist at any given time. The automatic focus theory and the multiple wavelet hypothesis appear to have the best supporting data.


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