Healthy Heart

Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation

Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation

Key Takeaways

  • Before treatment, there are several factors you must consider.
  • Medications can cause lethal side effects if not used properly.
  • Most treatment must be used on a long-term basis.

Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib) is a heart arrhythmia infection. It causes sporadic electrical signals within the atria, affecting heart rate. This is referred to as rapid ventricular rate (RVR). Atrial fibrillation derives from unusual electrical impulses within the heart.

Factors to consider before treatment

Treatment for AFib is a serious and very sensitive procedure in which a number of factors are put into consideration before any treatment is administered.

These factors may include:

  • Type and severity of symptoms
  • Type of AFib you have
  • General body health
  • Age
  • Any underlying causes of the infection

There are a number of treatment measures for atrial fibrillation. However, medication is considered the main treatment option for the condition. In cases where the patient is found to have underlying infections that are causing fibrillation, then it is easier to treat. Medications are administered to treat that particular condition.

Treatment measures without an underlying infection

Following your first appointment, your physician may consider:

  • Medication for controlling atrial fibrillation
  • Medications meant to minimize risk of stroke
  • Fitting of the pacemaker
  • Catheter ablation
  • Cardioversion - This involves treatment by use of an electric shock

Treatment Measures

Medicines that act as anti-arrhythmic are used to control AFib. The type of AFib, side effects, and the response to the medication are important when choosing the right medicine to treat particular symptoms.

Standard heart rhythm

Atrial fibrillation is known to change the rhythm of the heartbeat. These medicines are recommended:

  • Amiodarone
  • Flecainide
  • Beta-blockers such as Sotalol
  • Dronedarone

Medicines that reduce risk of a stroke

Atrial fibrillation can cause blood clots in the heart's chambers as a result of altered heartbeat rhythms. This is very risky, because it can lead to a stroke if these clots enter the blood stream.

In an attempt to limit the risk of a stroke, your doctor will consider the following:

Depending on your risk, medications such as warfarin can be used. Aspirin is also considered in preventing stroke.

Heartbeat management

Managing your heartbeat is another very important treatment option. It is meant to reduce your heart rate when at rest, or below 90 beats per minute.

The following may be used:

  • Beta-blockers such as atenolol or bisoprolol
  • Calcium blockers such as verapamil or diltiazem
  • Digoxin and amiodarone 

Side Effects of Other Medications

People suffering from atrial fibrillation are likely to experience the following side effects as a result of these medicines:

  • Flecainide - Known to cause nausea accompanied by vomiting, and other disorders associated with heart rhythm.
  • Verapamil - Heart failure, constipation and ankle swelling.
  • Beta-blockers - These can cause nightmares, impotence, fatigue or feeling cold in the hands and feet.
  • Amiodarone - Lung problems, changes in thyroid function, high sensitivity to sunlight.

The Bottom Line

In the treatment of atrial fibrillation there are a variety of medications that can be used. Before any medicines are taken, a doctor’s prescription is mandatory to prevent lethal side effects as a result of misuse.

Managing Atrial Fibrillation:

For treating atrial fibrillation, containment of irregular heart rates is important. Doctors have a number of procedures in place for treatment. They also focus on ensuring there are no blood clots. However, in order to reset the rhythm of the heart, it takes proper diagnosis, analysis and time.

The methods could include drugs and medication or an electrical procedure which involves and electrical shock in a manner that can be tolerated by the body. Besides these, other modes of treatment that are not uncommon are catheters, node ablation and other surgical procedures. After of these have been performed and the immediate condition has been taken care of, anti-arrhythmic medications are prescribed to curb inverse chances later on.  Medicines, most of the time, have mild to severe side effects.

In this case, though it may not be severe, the patient might experience nausea or fatigue. IF there are any unusual symptoms or side effects owing to the medicines, it is advisable to report to the doctor as soon as possible. No one wants a relapse of the condition. Thus, close monitoring by the doctor and a close watch by the patient on any changes or other symptoms that might develop are important.

Just like any other ailment, the treatment does not stop with immediate care. It revolves around tackling the condition in an orderly and long term basis. Mere medication and immediate treatment proves to be beneficial, but recovery is not confined to these alone. Treatment also demands patient care, disease management, continued medication and changes to the old routine. More often than not, a highly disruptive routine and fluctuation to good sleeping patterns cause a lot of issues in people. Thus, once the treatment ensues, it demands that the patient consciously monitors his disorderly routine and tries to tone down a little, in order to maintain a healthy daily schedule, good eating habits with an emphasis on the right sleep patterns.

Having a well balanced meal full of varying produce is essential. Fresh foods, the right calories, and adequate water intake are the best measures of staying healthy and fit. Eating right, indulging in mild physical activities, following a fitness routine, having the right set of food groups and following the doctor’s advice are the only ways to keep going. Remember, in the matters of the heart, it is imperative to stay strong and avoid stress of any form. It is also equally important to regulate any bad practices in your routine prior to the treatment and fix flaws in your daily living. Smoking, chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol and sleeping for fewer hours than recommended are detrimental to health, and more so, if you have just suffered from a severe heart condition.

Make the right choices and quit these bad habits to lead a carefree and more importantly, healthy and fulfilling life.  Also, get in contact with a medical expert so that you can be advised of more divisive ways through which you can benefit and live a healthy and lively life.