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Potential use of amiodarone to treat new-onset AF in the pre-hospital setting

02 August 2014
Volume 6 · Issue 8


Incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF) is high, it is the most prevalent arrhythmia in the UK, Europe and the USA (Naccarelli et al, 2009; Davis et al, 2012; Dagres et al, 2013) and is associated with significant morbidity, high risk of stroke and mortality (Cottrell, 2012). Clinical guidance from the National Collaborating Centre for Chronic Conditions (NCCCC) (2006) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (2006) supports clinicians working in primary and hospital-based emergency care, but not those working in pre-hospital care. Updated guidance from NICE (2014) highlights the importance of providing rapid, personalised, evidence-based care, yet does not provide any guidance for pre-hospital clinicians responding to emergency presentations of AF. Paramedics have knowledge and experience of identifying AF, possess antiarrhythmic, anticoagulant and anti-platelet medications as part of their formulary and possess the necessary skills for obtaining intravenous access.

This article reviews the national guidance and available best-evidence to provide safe treatment to patients presenting with new-onset AF and considers areas that merit further research.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) represents a major health challenge for society (Lip and Tse, 2007), affecting approximately 1.5% of the UK population (Wallentin et al, 2010). In the UK, in 2012–13 there were over 1 million people with the condition, up 21% from six years ago (Siddique, 2014). Across Europe, over 6 million people have this arrhythmia, and its prevalence is expected to grow significantly over the next 50 years (Camm et al, 2010). AF is a serious arrhythmia, associated with significant mortality and morbidity (Cottrell, 2012), and is more common in men than women (NCCCC, 2006). AF is responsible for prolonged hospital stays and high mortality rates (Somasundaram and Ball, 2013). Hospitalisations for AF total nearly 30% of acute admissions for all arrhythmias (Camm et al, 2010).

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