a stethoscope used by doctors who prescribe atrial fibrillation treatments

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

Atrial fibrillation, which is also known as "A fib" or "AF," is a type of arrhythmia, or irregular heart rhythm.

There are electrical impulses that cause the atria to contract. If these electrical impulses are not coordinated properly, then the atria will contract irregularly and very fast. This causes the heart to beat irregularly. The heart may also beat too slow or too fast. Some people may also experience dizziness, shortness of breath, and fainting.

Atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of heart failure and stroke. The good news is that there are a variety of ways that this condition can be managed. Below are some atrial fibrillation treatment options.

Medications

There are a variety of medications that can be used to treat atrial fibrillation. Your doctor may prescribe you an antiarrhythmic medication. Antiarrhythmic medications do not fix the problem, but they can help prevent tachycardia. Tachycardia is the medical term for an abnormally fast heartbeat. Your doctor will carefully monitor your dosage while you are on antiarrhythmic medications. In some cases, antiarrhythmic medications can cause a different type of arrhythmia.

Your doctor will most likely start off with a small dosage of medication in order to see how your body responds to it. After that, he or she will likely increase the dosage. Your doctor will adjust the dosage as needed until your symptoms are under control.

Because atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke, your doctor will probably prescribe a blood-thinning medication. Blood-thinning medications, which help prevent blood clots, include Xarelto and Pradaxa. Excessive bleeding is one of the side effects of blood-thinning medications, so you must be careful to avoid injuries while taking these medicines.

Pacemaker

A pacemaker is a device that is designed to regulate the heart rate. It is surgically implanted near the collar bone. If the heartbeat is too slow, then the pacemaker will send electrical impulses that restore normal heart rhythm.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator

This device is also known as an ICD. It is typically placed near the left side of the collarbone. The ICD monitors a person’s heart rhythm. Electrical impulses will be emitted if the ICD senses that a person’s heartbeat is too slow. If it senses that a person has gone into ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation, then it will shock the heart and normal rhythm will be restored. Your doctor may recommend this device if you are at risk for going into ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.