Answers to Common Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about atrial fibrillation.

How is atrial fibrillation (A Fib) treated?

Premier Health’s Dr. Kevin Kravitz talks about how atrial fibrillation (A Fib) is treated. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

 

When it comes to treating atrial fibrillation (A Fib), both the National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood InstituteOff Site Icon (NHLBI) and the American Heart AssociationOff Site Icon (AHA) agree that the goals of treatment are:

  • Preventing blood clots and managing other risk factors for stroke
  • Rate control—reducing the number of times per minute the ventricles contract
  • Rhythm control—restoring a normal heart rhythm (in the atria and ventricles)
  • Treating any underlying condition that contributes to atrial fibrillation, such as hyperthyroidism and diabetes

Doctors may use medications to prevent blood clots and to lower the heart rate. Common blood thinners for stroke prevention include aspirin, heparin and warfarin. Medications used for rate control include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and digitalis.

Doctors may recommend surgical procedures to treat patients who have recently experienced atrial fibrillation and/or those who do not respond well to rate control medications. Procedures commonly used to treat (and often cure) atrial fibrillation include:

  • Cardioversion—delivering brief electric shocks to the heart to interrupt an arrhythmia and restore a normal heart rhythm
  • Catheter ablation—threading a catheter to specific locations on the heart to destroy (by radiofrequency or cryotherapy) areas responsible for the arrhythmia

For some patients, a pacemaker may need to be implanted following ablation to maintain a normal heart rhythm.

Atrial fibrillation may be caused or exacerbated by other conditions. To manage those health conditions and/or reduce risks, doctors may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Reducing caffeine and/or salt intake
  • Managing stress
  • Exercising
  • Eating a balanced diet

Speak with your health care provider to learn more about atrial fibrillation treatment options.

Learn more:

Source: Kevin Kravitz, MD, Dayton Heart Center; Mark E. Krebs, MD, Miami Valley Cardiologists; Abdul Wase, MD, The Premier Heart Associates; Sameh Khouzam, MD, Dayton Heart Center

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