NYMC Faculty Publications

Role of Geriatric Syndromes in the Management of Atrial Fibrillation in Older Adults: A Narrative Review

Journal Title

Journal of the American Medical Directors Association

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Publication Date

February 2019




OBJECTIVES: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is common in older adults and associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events including thromboembolism. However, less is known about its association with noncardiovascular events, especially geriatric syndromes and conditions such as dementia, depression, impaired physical function, polypharmacy, falls, and poor quality of life. This review aims to help healthcare professionals integrate the special needs of older adults into their management of AF. DESIGN: Nonsystematic review. A literature search on published articles on AF and geriatric syndromes and conditions was performed using the electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE and SCOPUS, and DARE until December 2017. Non-English articles were excluded. SETTINGS AND PARTICIPANTS: Older adults with and without AF from different settings. MEASURES: Various cognitive, mood, and functional measurements were used in these studies. In studies regarding polypharmacy, the Beers or PRISCUS criteria were used to identify inappropriate medications. In quality of life measurements studies, instruments like Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 and Atrial Fibrillation Quality of Life questionnaire were used. RESULTS: This literature review finds that AF has a substantial association with geriatric syndromes and conditions and that AF is a risk factor for the development of geriatric syndromes and conditions. Evidence is limited regarding the potential benefit of long-term treatment of AF in lowering the risk of developing geriatric syndromes and conditions. CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS: Considering the impact of AF on cardiovascular outcomes and geriatric syndromes and conditions in older adults, healthcare professionals need to consider these complex dynamics while managing AF in older adults. An individual approach to AF management is needed in older adults with multiple comorbidity and polypharmacy that may help lower the risk of disease-disease, disease-drug, and drug-drug interactions. Special consideration needs to be given to patients' cognitive and functional impairment and ability to adhere to therapy.