Role of permanent pacing to prevent atrial fibrillation: Science Advisory from the American Heart Association Council on Clinical Cardiology (Subcommittee on Electrocardiography and Arrhythmias) and the Quality of Care and Outcomes research interdisciplinary Working Group, in collaboration with the Heart Rhythm Society

Bradley P. Knight, Bernard J. Gersh, Mark D. Carlson, Paul A. Friedman, Robert L. McNamara, S. Adam Strickberger, Hung Fat Tse, Albert L. Waldo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

73 Scopus citations


This advisory summarizes the current database on pacing modalities and algorithms used to prevent and terminate atrial fibrillation (AF). On the basis of the evidence indicating that ventricular pacing is associated with a higher incidence of AF in patients with sinus node dysfunction, a patient who has a history of AF and needs a pacemaker for bradycardia should receive a physiological pacemaker (dual chamber or atrial) rather than a single-chamber ventricular pacemaker. For patients who need a dual-chamber pacemaker, efforts should be made to program the device to minimize the amount of ventricular pacing when atrioventricular conduction is intact. Many pacemakers and implantable defibrillators have features designed to prevent AF and to terminate AF with rapid atrial pacing. The evidence to support their use is limited, although these algorithms appear to be safe and usually add little additional cost. For patients who have a bradycardia indication for pacing and also have AF, no consistent data from large randomized trials support the use of alternative single-site atrial pacing, multisite right atrial pacing, biatrial pacing, overdrive pacing, or antitachycardia atrial pacing. Even fewer data support the use of atrial pacing in the management of AF in patients without symptomatic bradycardia. At present, permanent pacing to prevent AF is not indicated; however, additional studies are ongoing, which will help to clarify the role of permanent pacing for AF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-243
Number of pages4
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 18 2005



  • AHA Science Advisory
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fibrillation
  • Pacemakers
  • Pacing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

Cite this