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Case Reports in Emergency Medicine
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 318645, 4 pages
Case Report

The Unexpected Pitter Patter: New-Onset Atrial Fibrillation in Pregnancy

Dell School of Medicine, University of Texas at Austin, USA

Received 10 March 2015; Accepted 31 March 2015

Academic Editor: Aristomenis K. Exadaktylos

Copyright © 2015 Sarah White et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Atrial fibrillation is a relatively uncommon but dangerous complication of pregnancy. Emergency physicians must know how to treat both stable and unstable tachycardias in late pregnancy. In this case, a 40-year-old female with a cerclage due to incompetent cervix and previous preterm deliveries presents in new-onset atrial fibrillation. Case Report. A previously healthy 40-year-old African American G2 P1 female with a 23-week twin gestation complicated by an incompetent cervix requiring a cervical cerclage presented to the emergency department with intermittent palpitations and shortness of breath for the past two months. EMS noted the patient to have a tachydysrhythmia, atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response. She was placed on a diltiazem drip, which was titrated to 15 mg/hr without successful rate control. Her heart rate remained in the 130s and the rhythm continued to be atrial fibrillation with RVR. Digoxin was then added as a second agent, and discussions about the potential risks of cardioversion in pregnancy ensued. Fortunately, the patient converted to sinus rhythm before cardioversion became necessary. The digoxin was discontinued; the diltiazem was also discontinued after the patient subsequently developed hypotension. “Why Should Emergency Physicians Be Aware of This?” New-onset atrial fibrillation is rare in pregnancy but can increase the mortality and morbidity of the mother and fetus if not treated promptly.