Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation EKG

Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmmia in the United States.

It is a type of supraventricular arrhythmmia, which means that its origin is above the ventricles (in this case, the atria).

With atrial fibrillation, multiple rapid impulses from many foci depolarize in the atria in a totally disorganized manner at a rate of 350 to 600 times/minute.

The atria quiver, which lead to the formation of thrombi.

As you can see in the EKG above, usually with atrial fibrillation, there are no P waves. Instead there are just "fibrillatory" waves before the QRS (ventricular depolarizations).


With atrial fibrillation, oxygen may be given. This is because the heart is simply quivering and not pumping blood throughout the body. Throughout, since there is minimal body supply to the body, there is limited oxygen being transported throughout the body.

Besides oxygen, for atrial fibrillation, a patient may be prescribed anticoagulants. This lessens the risk of emboli, which could cause an ischemic stroke.

Other drugs may be used such as digoxin, which is a cardiac glycoside. It is an inotropic agent, meaning it allows the heart to pump stronger. It also slows the heart rate down.

The client may be given cardioversion to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm.

Related Resources

Difference Between Coarse and Fine Ventricular Fibrillation

Cardiac Output Calculator

Stroke Volume Calculator

Pulse Pressure Calculator

Mean Arterial Pressure Calculator

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