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Atrial fibrillation clinical guidelines

Clinical information for diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation

Download the guidelines

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common recurring arrhythmia faced in clinical practice. It’s estimated that AF is prevalent in two to four per cent of the population in developed nations, such as Australia, and causes substantial morbidity and mortality.  

These are the first Australian guidelines on AF produced by the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand. They have been developed to assist Australian practitioners in the management of adult patients with AF.  

Who can use these guidelines?  

The guidelines are written for – and intended to be used by – practising healthcare professionals across all disciplines caring for adults with AF. Some core recommendations have been informed by existing international guidelines. However, these Australian guidelines provide a focus on local practice and include some updated recommendations reflecting emerging new evidence. 

What's in the guidelines?

  • 10 new clinical resources and algorithms.  
  • New recommendations on atrial fibrillation, incorporating new evidence that has been graded on the certainty of evidence and the likely absolute benefit versus harm. 
  • New recommendations on screening and prevention, diagnostic workup, detection and management of AF risk factors and concomitant diseases, arrhythmia management, stroke prevention. 
  • Evidence and recommendations on new risk factors (obesity, sleep apnoea, sedentary lifestyle). 
  • The use of catheter ablation treatment. 
  • Combining anticoagulants and antiplatelets. 
  • A change in the stroke predictions score (the sexless CHA2DS2-VA score). 
  • Recommendations for integrated management. 

Who endorses the guidelines?

These guidelines are endorsed by: 

  • The Stroke Foundation 
  • Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) 
  • Australian and New Zealand Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgeons (ANZSCTS) 
  • The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) 
  • The Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia (CRANA) 
  • Australian College of Nursing (ACN) 
  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).  

How were the guidelines developed

The guidelines were developed based on current evidence by the National Heart Foundation and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand. The guidelines were written by members of the working group who are leading experts in their fields and highly renowned both in Australia and overseas. 

The approach to development and consultation was designed to ensure appropriate stakeholder representation and engagement in the guideline writing process. Recommendations were developed using GRADE methodology, which assesses the certainty of evidence. Further information about the guideline development process can be found within the guidelines. 

Governance and conflicts of interest

The following documents outline the governance and process for the development of the guidelines, and the conflicts of interest for the Working and Reference Groups.  

Governance and process
Conflicts of interest register for the Reference Group
Conflicts of interest register for the Working Group

Atrial fibrillation guidelines presentations 

In 2018, the National Heart Foundation of Australia (NHFA) and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ) released the Australian Clinical Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Atrial Fibrillation.  

The full presentation and summary presentations of the guidelines are available below for download and can be used to present to your colleagues or work departments. 

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