A Multipronged Approach to Treat Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation, commonly known as irregular heartbeat, is a common cardiac disorder that results in poor circulation and can cause dangerous blood clots. Treatment varies based on the extent and severity of the disease as well as other factors. Read on to learn more about atrial fibrillation treatment.
Three types of treatment are commonly needed for people who have atrial fibrillation: those to treat the rapid heartbeat that is often a symptom, those to correct the rhythm of the heart, and those to thin the blood and prevent clots, which can lead to stroke.
Rapid heartbeat can be controlled with medication; however, these prescriptions do not correct issues with the heart rhythm. To correct the irregular heartbeat, most doctors will first prescribe rhythm control medications. If these do not work effectively, there are several other treatment options, including surgery.
Electric cardioversion is a low intensity electric shock which may be able to return the heart to a normal rhythm. A minimally invasive procedure, cardiac ablation, means that doctors destroy small areas in the heart that are sending out signals causing the irregular heartbeat. A similar procedure, called AV ablation, may be used if the cardioversion is ineffective. After this procedure, you’ll have to have a pacemaker to regular heart rhythm. A more invasive procedure, known as MAZE, creates scar tissue that blocks the errant electrical signals from traveling through your heart and disrupting the heartbeat.
In addition, your doctor may also prescribe an anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting if you’re at high risk for stroke. Even if you’re at low risk, some doctors will recommend that you take an aspirin daily to prevent blood clots.
Beyond these treatments, you may need to make lifestyle changes to prevent further cardiac issues or the worsening of your atrial fibrillation. These may include eating a healthy diet, limiting salt and fat, losing weight, and exercising regularly.
The right treatment for you depends on a variety of factors, including lifestyle, age, medication tolerance, and level of activity. If you’re experience irregular heartbeat, talk with your doctor. He or she can recommend the atrial fibrillation treatment that’s right for you.