Atrial fibrillation is the cardiac arrhythmia encountered most often in clinical practice. It is triggered by many conditions such as thyroid dysfunction, cardiac disease, alcohol, and pulmonary disease. Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are susceptible to many insults that can lead to an acute deterioration superimposed on chronic disease. Changes in blood gases, abnormalities in pulmonary functions, and hemodynamic changes resulting from pulmonary hypertension can lead to the development of atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation and COPD frequently coexist and complicate treatment of both conditions. The treatment of COPD exacerbation may include β-adrenergic agonist and theophylline, which can precipitate atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response. Pharmacologic and electrical cardioversion may be ineffective in the management of atrial fibrillation in patients with COPD until respiratory decompensation has been corrected. This article focuses on the management of atrial fibrillation in patients with COPD.
Carmen M. Lopez, MSN, ARNP-C Adult Nurse Practitioner, Interventional Cardiology Group, The Heart and Vascular Cardiology Group, Tampa, Fla.
Mary Ann House-Fancher, MSN, ACNP, CCRN Adult Nurse Practitioner, Interventional Cardiology Group, The Heart and Vascular Cardiology Group, Tampa, Fla.
Corresponding author Mary Ann House-Fancher, MSN, ACNP, CCRN, 4230 Stoney Point Rd, Melbourne, FL 32940 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).