Options for Treating Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Treatments: 7 Options

If you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, there are several ways to treat it. Depending on the severity of your condition and any underlying causes, your doctor may recommend one or a combination of therapeutic options. Upper East Side atrial fibrillation should not be ignored as it can lead to serious complications such as stroke, heart failure, and dementia.

Atrial fibrillation diagnosis

Your doctor will start with a comprehensive evaluation. This may include taking your medical history, performing a physical exam, and ordering tests such as blood work and an electrocardiogram.

When at the doctor’s office, your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen for an irregular heartbeat. An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) might confirm atrial fibrillation and monitor your heart rate over time.

In severe cases, cardiac computed tomography angiography (CCTA) may be recommended. This imaging test helps to identify any blockages in the heart’s arteries that could be causing atrial fibrillation. 

Once your doctor has identified the type of atrial fibrillation you have, they can develop an appropriate treatment plan.

There are different types of atrial fibrillation:

  • Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: This type of atrial fibrillation lasts a short period and stops spontaneously.
  • Persistent atrial fibrillation: This type is present for more than seven days and requires medical attention to stop or slow down.
  • Permanent atrial fibrillation: This type is present for more than one year and needs to be managed long-term.

Causes of atrial fibrillation include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, thyroid dysfunction, and sleep apnea. When the causes are combined with these symptoms, your doctor can recommend the most appropriate treatment. Some of the indicative signs include:

  • Palpitations: This symptom involves feeling your heart beating unevenly or skipping a beat.
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness: These could be warning signs that you are having an episode of atrial fibrillation.
  • Weakness and fatigue: If you feel weak or tired all the time, it could be a sign of this condition.
  • Shortness of breath: This could signal that your heart is not working efficiently.

Treatment Options

The treatment approach for atrial fibrillation depends on the severity and whether it is paroxysmal, persistent, or permanent. The main treatments are:

Medication

It can help to control the heart rate, prevent future episodes of atrial fibrillation, and reduce symptoms. Common medications used are beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and anticoagulants. Always ensure that you follow the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor and take the medication as directed.

Cardiac ablation

This procedure is done to destroy areas of the heart that are causing atrial fibrillation. It can help reduce symptoms, prevent future episodes, and improve quality of life. Your doctor may also recommend this procedure if the medication does not work.

Cardioversion

This electrical shock to the heart can help restore a normal heartbeat. It can be done in an emergency or as a planned procedure. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of cardioversion with you before proceeding.

Surgery

Surgery may be an option in some cases. This is usually done if other treatments fail or there is an underlying cause that needs to be addressed. Some common surgeries used for atrial fibrillation include maze procedures, mini-maze procedures, and catheter ablation.

When you notice any of the symptoms mentioned, It is important to talk to your doctor at Upper East Side Cardiology.

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