Atrial fibrillation is the most common dysrhythmia after cardiac surgery and is a major cause of morbidity and increased resource utilization. Atrial fibrillation occurs in 11% to 40% of patients after coronary artery bypass graft surgery and in more than 50% of patients after valve surgery.1 This dysrhythmia occurs most often within the first 4 days after surgery, although it can occur at any time during recovery.1,2 Consequences of atrial fibrillation include stroke, heart failure, and syncope.

In 1998, an estimated 553 000 coronary artery bypass graft procedures and 89 000 valve procedures were performed in the United States.3 The length of stay in the hospital after surgery has become shorter as cost constraints dictate earlier discharge from healthcare facilities. With the declining length of stay, cardiac monitoring may need to expand from the hospital...

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