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<p>Should clinicians screen asymptomatic older patients for atrial fibrillation? What is the best treatment course for patients without cardiovascular disease risk?</p>

USPSTF Weighs in on Key Cardiology Topics

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

As American Heart Month continues, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued information on two important areas of cardiology: atrial fibrillation screening and behavioral counseling for patients without cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.

For some time, the USPSTF had been investigating the pros and cons of screening adult patients age 50 years and older for atrial fibrillation if those patients did not show signs of atrial fibrillation or stroke. Task Force members considered various methods, including ECGs, pulse oximeters, and smartwatches.

“Unfortunately, there still is not enough evidence to know if screening for AFib helps to prevent strokes in older adults,” USPSTF member Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD, MPH, said in a statement. “Since AFib is a risk factor for stroke and can go undetected, clinicians should use their best judgment to decide whether or not to screen people without signs or symptoms of AFib.”

Meanwhile, CVD is the leading killer of Americans, but not everyone is living with common risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. In a draft recommendation that is open to public comment until Feb. 14, the USPSTF advises clinicians and patients without CVD risk factors to engage in discussions about behavioral counseling to promote healthy lifestyles.

“Healthy diet and physical activity are essential to cardiovascular disease prevention, and behavioral counseling to promote healthy lifestyles can help even some people without cardiovascular disease risk factors,” USPSTF member Lori Pbert, PhD, said in a statement. “We found that people who are interested in making changes to their diet and physical activity are most likely to benefit from counseling, so clinicians are encouraged to talk with their patients and decide together if behavioral counseling is right for them.”

This 2022 draft recommendation is an update of a similar 2017 recommendation, which carried the support of groups like the American Academy of Family Physicians.

For more on this and related information, be sure to read the latest issues of Clinical Cardiology Alert.