Your heartHealthy livingFor professionalsResearchHow you can helpAbout us
Heart in human chest

Atrial fibrillation clinical resources for healthcare professionals

For health professionals


Atrial fibrillation clinical resources for healthcare professionals

Clinical resources for healthcare professionals including algorithms and key practice points.

The Heart Foundation’s clinical resources for atrial fibrillation (AF) have been developed using current evidence from the Australian Clinical Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Atrial Fibrillation (2018). 

These clinical resources are designed for healthcare professionals and provide information, algorithms and key practice points for AF. 

GPs are central to the effective delivery of integrated care to support comprehensive treatment and address the specific needs for people with AF. This resource has been specifically developed for GPs to help you provide this care for a condition that’s primarily managed in the community and is often comorbid with other diseases.  

This clinical resource contains information from the new AF guidelines about: 

  • Screening 

  • Diagnostic work-up 

  • Arrhythmia management 

  • Stroke prevention 

  • Algorithms 

  • Key practice points  

  • Resources for GPs. 

Download Atrial fibrillation management, the central role of the GP (2019) (PDF). 

AF is the most common recurrent arrhythmia faced in clinical practice and it causes substantial morbidity and mortality. The prevalence of AF is estimated to be between two to four per cent of the population in developed countries, such as Australia. However, true prevalence of AF is underestimated because subclinical AF is frequent. This can be a challenge for treating clinicians, because adverse consequences of AF (for example, stroke), may occur before AF is diagnosed. Apart from age, the prevalence of AF is influenced by risk factors and comorbidities, such as: 

  • Hypertension 

  • Heart failure 

  • Coronary artery disease 

  • Valvular heart disease 

  • Obesity 

  • Diabetes 

  • Chronic kidney disease.  

This clinical fact sheet provides information and guidance for healthcare professionals about screening for AF. It includes key recommendations such as: 

  • Screen all patients over 65 and confirm suspected AF with electrocardiogram (ECG)  

  • Complete a diagnostic work-up with echocardiography and thyroid function tests  

  • Identify and manage intercurrent risk factors and comorbidities. 

Download Atrial fibrillation screening and diagnostic work-up (2019) (PDF) now. 

AF-related stroke accounts for at least one in four of ischaemic strokes in Australia and is associated with significant levels of mortality and disability. The Australian Clinical Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Atrial Fibrillation make a strong recommendation for using the CHA2DS2-VA score for predicting stroke risk in AF. Higher scores might be used to alert healthcare professionals to a greater need to attend to any modifiable bleeding risk factors. The AF guidelines make a strong recommendation to identify and correct reversible bleeding factors, such as hypertension and falls in AF patients for whom anticoagulation is recommended.

This clinical fact sheet provides guidance on stroke prevention in non-valvular AF for healthcare professionals. It contains information developed from the new AF guidelines about: 

  • Assessing stroke risk using the CHA2DS2-VA score 

  • Assessing and correcting reversible bleeding factors 

  • Shared decision-making with the patient to determine anticoagulation prescription and regular therapy monitoring.  

For further information, please refer to the clinical guidelines for AF. 

Download Stroke prevention in non-valvular atrial fibrillation using the CHA2DS2-VA score (2019) (PDF) now.

Catheter ablation is an increasingly common therapeutic strategy for the management of AF.

The National Heart Foundation of Australia investigations suggest that there’s some confusion among those caring for patients with AF about the role and optimal use of ablative treatments for this condition. 

An expert working group was convened to evaluate the evidence and provide guidance to healthcare professionals. The resulting consensus statement provides recommendations on the use of primary catheter ablation for AF in Australia.

These are general recommendations for healthcare providers to guide them in the use of catheter ablation for patients with AF. They’re intended for health professionals in acute and primary care, including cardiologists, general practitioners and nurses. 

Download National Heart Foundation of Australia consensus statement: catheter ablation as a therapy for atrial fibrillation (2013) (PDF).

More on this topic...

  1. NHFA CSANZ Atrial Fibrillation Guideline Working Group, Brieger D, Amerena J, et al. National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand: Australian Clinical Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Atrial Fibrillation 2018. Heart Lung Circ. Oct 2018;27(10):1209-1266. doi:10.1016/j.hlc.2018.06.1043
  2. Gattellari M, Goumas C, Aitken R, Worthington JM. Outcomes for patients with ischaemic stroke and atrial fibrillation: the PRISM study (A Program of Research Informing Stroke Management). Cerebrovasc Dis. 2011;32(4):370-82. doi:10.1159/000330637

Last updated20 February 2024