Drug Therapy for the Management of Atrial Fibrillation: An Update

Andrew RJ Mitchell


Br J Cardiol. 2003;10(5) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


With an ageing population in the United Kingdom, atrial fibrillation has become an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality, and a burden on health resources. Drug therapies for the management of atrial fibrillation have a number of roles, including the restoration and maintenance of sinus rhythm and the prevention of thrombo-embolic complications. New anti-arrhythmic drugs are under development and alternatives to warfarin are being investigated. This article examines the current knowledge on the effectiveness of drug therapy in atrial fibrillation and discusses some aspects of the future of drug therapy for atrial fibrillation.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is becoming an increasingly common condition and, with an ageing population, the arrhythmia is a significant cause of hospital admission, morbidity and mortality.[1,2] The median age of patients with AF is 75 years and 84% are older than 65.[3] Drug therapies for the management of AF have a number of important roles, including: maintaining sinus rhythm in patients with paroxysmal AF, the control of ventricular rate in persistent AF, chemical cardioversion, facilitating electrical cardioversion, preventing recurrence of arrhythmia after cardioversion, and reducing the risk of thrombo-embolic complications.


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