BACKGROUND: New-onset postoperative atrial fibrillation (poAF) complicates approximately 20-60% of all cardiac surgical procedures and is associated with an increased periprocedural mortality and morbitity, prolonged hospital stay, increased costs, and worse long-term survival. Unfortunately multiple advances in surgery and perioperative care over the last two decades have not led to a reduction in the incidence of poAF or associated complications in the daily clinical practice.
METHODS: A narrative review of the available literature was performed.
RESULTS: An extensive review of the pathophysiology of poAF following cardiac surgery, clinical, and procedural risk-factors is provided, as well as prophylactic measures and treatment.
CONCLUSION: Multiple strategies to prevent and manage poAF following heart surgery already exist. Our hope is that this review will facilitate more rigorous testing of prevention strategies, implementation of prophylaxis regimens as well as optimal treatment of this common and serious complication.