Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac dysrhythmia and is an accelerating public health challenge. Challenges related to detection, management, and prevention of disability and dysfunction secondary to AF are increasingly apparent. The subspecialty of cardiology, cardiac electrophysiology, is primarily tasked with the treatment of AF. Patients with AF are often ambushed by the condition with approximately 28% to 38% of patients experiencing significant anxiety or depressive symptoms. Behavioral risk reduction can be targeted by achieving and maintaining a healthy BMI, abstaining from smoking, avoiding alcohol consumption, and sustaining regular physical activity. AF patients are also tasked with considering possible treatment options, adhering to medication regiments & lifestyle changes, utilizing wearable technologies, and managing emotional distress, to minimize health risks and optimize quality of life. Major medical organizations have called for integrated, multidisciplinary management as the treatment of choice for AF patients. Health psychologists bring valuable expertise but are not uniformly involved in the care of AF patients. The purposes of this article are to (a) review the existing research on the medical, psychological, and behavioral aspects of contemporary management of AF, (b) highlight the intersections between cardiac electrophysiology and clinical health psychology in managing AF, and (c) call for more health psychologists in this specialized area of cardiac electrophysiology. This opportunity for health psychologists may challenge the profession to further specialize as “cardiac psychologists” and mirror our medical colleagues. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
About The Expert
Samuel F Sears