Atrial Fibrillation Treatment: What Are My Options?
by: Ben Escomm
Some of you may have heard that afib is common, comes with age, and is harmless. Not necessarily true. Clots can form in the heart from atrial fibrillation which can lead to a stroke. Afib may start as happening only every so often, but it usually leads to more episodes, which may lead to a more permanent episode (i.e. occurring all the time). The irregularity in the heart rate can cause you to be symptomatic. And there are some studies that are looking at a link between afib and heart failure.
So atrial fibrillation is not something to take lightly and it should be managed by your doctor. No doubt, if your doctor has diagnosed you with atrial fibrillation, then he or she has already started you on some drug treatment. The most common would be a blood thinner to prevent a clot from forming in the heart and thus reducing the potential for a stroke.
When a patient is in atrial fibrillation, their heart is very irregular and sometimes can race at a rate of between 100 and 130 or higher. In some patients this can make them feel symptomatic. If you are one of these patients and feel symptoms from the atrial fibrillation, your doctor may prescribe rate or rhythm control drugs. As the names suggest, these meds try to control the irregular and rapid rates of your heart. Though useful in controlling the heart, some patients don�t like them because of their associated side affects.
Additionally, since the drugs slow the heart rate down, there�s a chance of the heart going too slow. To counter this effect of drug treatment a pacemaker is sometimes implanted to ensure that your heart is beating at an appropriate level.
Another option available is an atrial fibrillation ablation. Unlike the medication therapy, this option tries to cure the atrial fibrillation. The procedure takes place at the hospital and is relatively simple. The only pain you would feel is after the procedure (you are usually asleep during the ablation), where the instruments used in the procedure (catheters) were inserted into your body. These instruments are small enough to fit in your blood vessels and are usually inserted in the groin area. The blood vessels are a way for the doc to access your heart without the need for major surgery (i.e. open heart surgery).
I go into more details on atrial fibrillation treatments on my website: www.understandingatrialfibrillation.com. There you will also find descriptions of atrial fibrillation, causes, and much more�all in easy to understand terms.
Ben has been in the medical device industry for several years. His experience is specifically with equipment relating to the heart. A good amount of his work is understanding patient heart conditions so that he can better suggest to cardiologists which equipment will work best for a specific situation. His work also provides him with a lot of patient interaction and this is where his website started. UnderstandingAtrialFibrillation.com is made for the patient--no medical jargon, just easy to understand information.
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