A substantial amount of literature has been published on atrial fibrillation (AF) since the first description of pulsus irregularis perpetuus by Hering in 1908 175HJ, who, according to Scherf and Schott [53S], noted the absence of P waves, but failed to realize that the arrhythmia was identical to AF. The electrocardiographic description was published almost simultaneously one year later by Rothberger and Winterberg [100R] and by Thomas Lewis [67L]. The fact that many experimental, clinical, and electrocardiographic aspects of AF have been described during the past 60 years does not mean that everything is known about this common rhythm disorder which is encountered in about 0.4% of the general population, in 2%–5% of the hospital population, and in up to 25%–40% of elderly patients or patients with heart failure. There is an obvious need of further knowledge about the relationship between various clinical aspects and the electrophysiology of the human atria. Some of these aspects are discussed in this chapter while the factors concerning the ventricular response to AF are discussed in chapter 13.
KeywordsAtrial Fibrillation Refractory Period Vagal Stimulation Atrial Flutter Supraventricular Tachycardia
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