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The prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) increase with ageing. In France AF affects between 400,000 to 660,000 people aged 75 years or more. In the elderly, AF is a major risk factor of stroke and a predictive factor for mortality. Comorbidities are frequent and worsen the prognosis of AF. They can be the cause or the consequence of AF and their management is a major therapeutic objective. Comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA), is required to analyse both medical and psychosocial elements, and to identify co-morbidities and geriatrics syndrome as cognitive disorders, risk of falls, malnutrition, mood disorders, and lack of dependency and social isolation. The objectives of AF treatment in the elderly are to prevent AF complications, particularly stroke, and to improve quality of life. Specific precautions for treatment must be taken because of the co-morbidities and age-related changes in pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics. Preventing AF complications relies mainly on anticoagulant therapy. Anticoagulants are recommended in patients with AF aged ≥ 75 years after assessing the bleeding risk using Hemorr2hages or HAS-BLED scores. Novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are promising treatments especially due to a lower risk of intracerebral haemorrhage. However, their prescriptions should take into account renal function (creatinine clearance assessed with Cockcroft formula) and cognitive function (for adherence to treatment). Studies including very old patients with several comorbidities in 'real life' are necessary to evaluate tolerance of NOACs in this population. The management of AF also involves the treatment of underlying cardiomyopathy and heart rate control rather than rhythm control strategy as first-line therapy in the elderly.


Olivier Hanon, Patrick Assayag, Joel Belmin, Jean Philippe Collet, Jean Paul Emeriau, Laurent Fauchier, Françoise Forette, Patrick Friocourt, Armelle Gentric, Christophe Leclercq, Michel Komajda, Jean Yves Le Heuzey, French society of geriatrics and gerontology and the French society of cardiology. Expert consensus of the French society of geriatrics and gerontology and the French society of cardiology on the management of atrial fibrillation in elderly people]. Gériatrie et psychologie neuropsychiatrie du vieillissement. 2013 Jun;11(2):117-43

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PMID: 23803629

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