In order to bring you the best possible user experience, this site uses Javascript. If you are seeing this message, it is likely that the Javascript option in your browser is disabled. For optimal viewing of this site, please ensure that Javascript is enabled for your browser.
Did you know that your browser is out of date? To get the best experience using our website we recommend that you upgrade to a newer version. Learn more.

European Society of Cardiology announces its new Atrial Fibrillation guideline

Embargoed for release: Sunday 29 August 2010 at 1000hrs

Atrial Fibrillation

Stockholm, Sweden, 29 August 2010: The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) today announces the release of new Clinical Practice Guidelines covering Atrial Fibrillation. These are the first guidelines to be prepared solely by the ESC on this very important topic. Earlier guidelines on Atrial Fibrillation had been prepared collaboratively with the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, but the divergence in practice, drug treatments and the regulatory environment compared with the US have now made it vital to create a European-specific version. The new guidelines will be presented at the annual ESC Congress in Stockholm on 29 August during the Clinical Practice Guidelines session in Zone K, starting at 0935.

Atrial Fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia condition, affecting over six million Europeans. The main symptom is that, instead of a co-ordinated contraction of the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria), the atrial muscle is activated too quickly and simply quivers instead of contracting. Patients experience palpitations and other symptoms such as breathlessness and fatigue. The condition confers a five-fold increase in the risk of a stroke if left untreated, and then a doubling of the risk of death from that stroke.

The guidelines reflect notable developments in many of the conventional treatments for the condition as well as the very latest techniques to manage it:

  • Rate control strategies for patients with permanent atrial fibrillation
  • New risk profiling to identify patients at risk of stroke
  • Availability of arrhythmic drugs with fewer side-effects
  • More specific indications for the use of ablation treatment
  • Upstream therapies that can halt the progression of the condition

Professor John Camm of the University of London is a renowned international expert on arrhythmia, and he is also a Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology. He was appointed Chair of the ESC Task Force that developed the highly detailed guidelines. “Atrial Fibrillation has become an epidemic, and we estimate that around 1 to 2 percent of the total population are affected,” he said. “This figure is expected to at least double in line with the demographics of an ageing population because it is particularly prevalent amongst older people. We needed to create up-to-date guidelines because of new drug therapies available, and also because accumulated evidence continuously refines the advice on treatment regimens that give the best outcomes.”

There is a new feature at this year’s ESC Congress – a series of ‘Meet the Guidelines Task Force’ sessions. Practitioners that will be using the Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines, as well as journalists, will be offered the opportunity to have an open discussion and Q&A with Professor Camm and members of the Task Force on Monday 30 August in Zone K, starting at 1315.

The complete Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines document can be downloaded from the ESC website at



This press release accompanies both a presentation and an ESC press conference given at the ESC Congress 2010. The press release has been written and/or edited by the ESC from information provided by the investigator and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Society of Cardiology. The content of the press release has been approved by the investigator.

Notes to editor

About guidelines
ESC Clinical Practice Guidelines are scientifically recognised worldwide as providing practicing physicians with the best possible recommendations on diagnosis, treatment and management of specific topics in cardiology medicine. Guidelines are created and edited under the umbrella of the ESC Board and the Committee for Practice Guidelines (CPG), who form a Task Force of appropriate experts from the ESC Associations, Working Groups, Councils, and National Societies, and from other bodies when required. They are the result of consensus amongst the Task Force appointed to prepare them, and they are peer-reviewed in a thorough and rigorous process that ensures accuracy, best-practice and relevance. Guidelines are available in a variety of printed and electronic media and in multiple formats including full documents, pocket guides and summaries.

About the European Society of Cardiology
The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) represents more than 62,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in Europe.
About ESC Congress 2010
ESC Congress 2010 will take place from 28 August to 1 September at the Stockholmsmässan, Stockholm. Information on the scientific programme is available at More information on ESC Congress 2010 is available from the ESC's press office at