Your heartHealthy livingFor professionalsResearchHow you can helpAbout us

Atrial fibrillation clinical guidelines

For health professionals


Atrial fibrillation clinical guidelines

Australian clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in clinical practice. Atrial fibrillation affects more than 500,000 Australians, and causes substantial morbidity and mortality

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

Who can use these guidelines?  

The Australian guidelines are written for health professionals across all disciplines. The guidelines provide a focus on local practice, with core recommendations informed by international guidelines.

What's in the guidelines?

  • Clinical resources and algorithms.
  • Recommendations on atrial fibrillation, incorporating evidence that has been graded on the certainty of evidence and the likely absolute benefit versus potential harm.
  • Recommendations on screening and prevention, diagnostic workup, detection and management of atrial fibrillation risk factors and co-morbidities, arrhythmia management, stroke prevention. 
  • Evidence and recommendations on newer risk factors (obesity, sleep apnoea, sedentary lifestyle). 
  • Use of catheter ablation treatment. 
  • Combining anticoagulants and antiplatelets. 
  • Stroke prediction score (CHA2DS2-VA). 
  • Recommendations for integrated management. 

Who endorses the guidelines?

These guidelines are endorsed by: 

  • Stroke Foundation 
  • Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
  • Australian and New Zealand Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgeons 
  • The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
  • The Council of Remote Area Nurses of Australia 
  • Australian College of Nursing
  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners  

How were the guidelines developed

The guidelines were developed by the Heart Foundation and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand based on current evidence (at the time of writing). 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 in the guidelines and below.

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 

Summary and full presentations about the guidelines are available below for download below.

This presentation provides a summary of the key recommendations from the 2018 atrial fibrillation guidelines. 

Length: 58 slides 

Duration: Approximately 30 minutes (presentation time).

This presentation covers all the recommendations from the 2018 atrial fibrillation guidelines, including a full description of the process used to develop the guidelines.

Length: 75 slides 

Duration: Approximately 60 minutes (presentation time).

This webinar discusses the 2018 Australian clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation, developed by the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Duration: 1 hour

Recording date: 2018

Audience:  Health professionals caring for people with atrial fibrillation

Speakers: Professor David Brieger, Ms Cia Connell, Professor Nick Zwar and Dr Norman Swan (Chair)

Learning objectives:

  • Implement the latest clinical guidelines for atrial fibrillation, including prevention, screening, diagnosis and management.
  • Recognise the principles of stroke prevention for people with atrial fibrillation.
  • Apply the clinical guidelines in practice using a case study.

Recorded for the 2020 Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) conference (GP20), this webinar discusses the diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation and includes a case study to highlight key practice points and common clinical challenges arising in general practice.

Duration: 45 minutes

Recording date: 2020

Audience: GPs, GP registrars

Speakers: Dr Atef Asham, Dr Amanda Buttery, Professor Nick Zwar

Learning objectives:

  • Apply best practice recommendations for the screening and prevention of atrial fibrillation in the community.

  • Describe evidence-based strategies for the diagnosis and management of atrial fibrillation.

  • Explain strategies for the prediction and management of stroke risk associated with atrial fibrillation including considerations for anticoagulation therapy.

1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Heart, stroke and vascular disease: Australian facts. 2023. Accessed 16 Jan 2024.

2. Schunemann H, Brozek J, Guyatt G, Oxman A. The GRADE Handbook. 2013. Accessed 16/01/2024.

You might also be interested in...

Heart in human chest
Atrial fibrillation clinical resources for healthcare professionals

Developed using current evidence from the Australian Clinical Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Atrial Fibrillation (2018).

New research to better control and treat life-threatening heart rhythm disorders

New research funded by the Heart Foundation aims to boost surgery success rates for life-threatening heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias), leading to fewer Australians needing defibrillators installed in their chests.

Older male patient smiling with GP, whose hand is on his shoulder
Atrial fibrillation information for patients

Patient-centred care is recognised as one of the fundamental aspects of integrated care in the guidelines for atrial fibrillation (AF).

Last updated16 January 2024