Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) can greatly affect your quality of life, energy levels, and physical activity. Treating AFib early is important, as AFib worsens over time. The earlier AFib is treated, the better outcomes you may have. Find a heart rhythm specialist (electrophysiologist) to discuss what treatment options are right for you.
Goals in Treating Atrial Fibrillation
- Relieve AFib symptoms and improve patient’s quality of life
- Prevent blood clots to decrease the risk of stroke
- Control the heart rate to allow the ventricles (lower heart chambers) enough time to fill with blood
- Restore the heart rhythm to allow the atria (upper heart chambers) and ventricles to work together more efficiently
The following AFib treatments may be prescribed:
- Medication to control the heart rate or rhythm (antiarrhythmic drugs)
- Blood thinners (anticoagulation therapy) to prevent blood clots from forming
- Cardioversion (an electrical shock is delivered to the heart) during anesthesia, or through medication, to reset an abnormal heart rhythm back to normal
- Catheter ablation to terminate abnormal electrical pathways in the heart tissue
- Pacemakers and defibrillators (implantable) to detect and treat AFib early and suppress the onset of AFib
- Minimally invasive (AFib only) or open-chest (in conjunction with other cardiac surgery) surgical ablation to create lesions that block abnormal electrical circuits causing AFib
Once AFib is thought to be suppressed or treated, care must still be taken to monitor for recurrences of AFib. Even if there are no symptoms, AFib may cause a stroke.
Talk to your doctor about which treatment options are right for you.
Hear from a Physician
Watch as a physician discusses the options for treating AFib.
Deciding Not to Get Treatment
AFib can be a serious medical condition and if left untreated, it may lead to:
- Blood clots causing stroke or heart attack
- Heart failure
To help prevent these serious events, it’s important to get your heart checked periodically even if there are no symptoms. If you are diagnosed with AFib, talk to your doctor about which treatment options are right for you.
Risks of Not Treating AFib
View the following animation on the risks associated with not treating AFib.
Should I Get Treatment?
Watch the video below and hear what Dr. Robert Kowal, VP, chief medical and safety officer at Medtronic, has to say about why treatment for atrial fibrillation is recommended.