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Patient Resources

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common thromboembolic condition that affects at least 2.3 million adults in the United States. AF primarily develops in people over the age of 65, with morbidity and mortality increasing with age. Over the past two decades, the incidence rate has climbed by 13%; by the year 2050, 12-16 million will be affected by AF.

Irrespective of the approach to controlling heart rate and rhythm, AF remains a risk factor for thromboembolic disease, in particular stroke, and anticoagulant therapy is strongly recommended for high-risk patients. About 15% of strokes are caused by emboli due to atrial fibrillation. 3 to 5% of AF patients will suffer a stroke. Most of these embolic strokes are preventable if adequate anticoagulation is utilized. 2 The ACC, AHA, and ESC have developed and published guidelines for stroke prevention using antiplatelet and anticoagulant therapy based on the patient’s CHADS2 score and CHADS-VASC score.3, 4 Underutilization of anticoagulant therapy for AF patients is widely reported, despite published guidelines recommending anticoagulation for stroke prevention.

To address the knowledge gaps surrounding stroke risk assessment and anticoagulation for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), NATF is proposing 3-year educational initiative to identify multidisciplinary best quality care for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation, and to provide consensus briefings on risk assessment and anticoagulation treatment based on clinical scenarios for education in primary care, emergency medicine, pharmacology, and cardiovascular medicine.


Although the exact cause of atrial fibrillation is not always understood, AF is often associated with increased age, sleep apnea, surgery and a number of heart ailments including atherosclerosis, angina, heart failure, heart attack or congenital heart disease.
The signs and symptoms of AF include:

• Palpitations
• rapid irregular heart rate
• low blood pressure
• chest pain
• shortness of breath
• lightheadedness
• fatigue

Complete this brief 60-second quiz to understand your risk of A-fib related stroke and to receive more information.


Stroke risk:

Tests for AF: There are several tests that can be done to check for a fast or irregular heartbeat. Your doctor may order these tests if you are having signs or symptoms of a heart condition. Tests include:

  • Electocardiogram (ECG)
  • Holter monitor
  • Mobile cardiac monitor
  • Event monitor
  • Echocardiogram
  • Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE)
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)
  • Cardiac computerized tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Treatment Options

Rate and Thrythm Medication
Bleeding Risk

Educational Materials

To learn more about living with AFib, download the pdf of "Living Well with Atrial Fibrillation and Reducing Your Risk of Stroke".

Living Well With Atrial Fibrillation And Reducing Your Risk Of Stroke

4WARD Coalition™

The 4WARD Coalition™ is a multi-disciplinary collaboration of experts dedicated to improving the quality and consistency of care for atrial fibrillation (AFib) patients needing anticoagulation treatment. The Coalition developed a shared decision making tool and resources to help patients and Healthcare Providers engage in informed discussions about AFib, stroke risk and treatment options.

Visit the online tool and resources at

Access the printable version here.

4Ward Logo


NATF Educational Videos

To learn more about anticoagulant therapies, becoming a patient advocate, and living a heart healthy lifestyle, view the compilation of NATF videos below:

Video topics and titles:

Understanding Anticoagulant Therapy | Jean M. Connors, MD
Being Your Own Healthcare Advocate | Henry Hagopian III
Anticoagulation: A Clinician's Message to Patients | Samuel Z. Goldhaber, MD
Patient Seminar: Atrial Fibrillation 101 | David DeiCicchi, PharmD
Tips for Heart-Healthy Eating
The Future of Anticoagulation | Samuel Z. Goldhaber, MD
Get Moving! Tips for Simple Exercise

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