Atrial fibrillation used to be considered to be a harmless annoyance but is now recognized as a dangerous condition that can double the risk of death.
Patients with atrial fibrillation are five to seven times more likely to have a stroke and the disease may also cause congestive heart failure as well as uncomfortable symptoms related to a rapid heart rate.
Treatment for atrial fibrillation begins with services provided by a cardiologist but can ultimately require a surgical procedure.
Treatment options include:
Electric shock cardioversion
Medications are usually the first line of treatment for atrial fibrillation. This includes rate and rhythm drugs, medications that are designed to slow and regulate the heart rate.
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Cardioversion uses an electrical shock current to help normalize the heart’s rhythm. Cardioversion can be used to treat many types of fast or irregular heart rhythms. The most common irregular heart rhythms that require cardioversion include atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter.
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Catheter Ablation (Cardiac Ablation, Ablation Therapy or Radiofrequency Ablation)
With this ablation therapy, a doctor inserts a catheter (thin, flexible tube) into the heart. A special machine delivers energy through the catheter to tiny areas of the heart muscle that cause the abnormal heart rhythm. This energy “disconnects” the pathway of the abnormal rhythm. The ablation procedure also can be used to disconnect the electrical pathway between the upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart. The type of ablation performed depends upon the type of arrhythmia.
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In pacemaker therapy,a device that is implanted in the patient’s chest sends out electrical pulses to correct
or set the heart’s rhythm. A computer chip in the device determines the type of electrical pulses to send to
the heart and when those pulses are needed. It also records information on the heart’s electrical activity and
rhythms that be used to adjust the settings to better at assure a normal rhythm.
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