What are the Treatment Options for AFib? Part 1, Medications

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common form of arrhythmia. According to the CDC, an estimated 2.7 to 6.1 million people in the US suffer from AFib, and that number is expected to grow as the population ages in the coming decades. The Center also estimates that 750,000 hospital stays per year are a result of AFib and approximately 130,000 deaths per year are A Fib related. While some forms of AFib are not serious, other types can be cause for concern. If you suffer from AFib, you should seek the advice of medical professionals such as the doctors and nurses at Atrial Fibrillation Center Of America. To set an appointment call, (832) 478-5067

In this and the following blogs, we will look at some of the most effective treatment options for, first, AFib (Part 1, Medications & Part 2, Surgery) and then, Part 3, (Post Treatment Care). When a person experiences AFib, the electrical signals that trigger heartbeats become irregular and cause the atrial chambers of the heart (the upper left and right chambers) to beat irregularly and erratically. This condition results in heartbeats which are out of rhythm which reduces the amount of blood flowing through the body.

A number of highly successful treatment approaches are available for AFib sufferers. These include:

  • Medications formulated to regulate the heart rate and rhythm
  • Ablation and other surgeries
  • Use of blood thinners
  • Lifestyle choices to manage AFib risk factors.

Medications

The primary objectives when drugs are prescribed to treat AFib are to regulate the rhythm of the heart, to prevent blood clots, or some combination of these two. Depending on the particular conditions of the patient, the length of time the fibrillation has been present, and the physician’s evaluation, the patient may receive either or both blood thinners or anti-arrhythmic medications. These drugs work to regulate the heart and reduce the chances of clotting.

During AFib, the blood does not circulate normally and may ‘pool’ or ‘collect’ where it might form a clot. When this happens, the clot or a portion of the clot may break free and travel to the brain, causing a stroke. Blood thinners then become important in managing the risk of stroke in persons with AFib. A number of blood thinners available to help prevent clotting include:

  • Warfarin
  • Coumadin
  • Pradaxa
  • Xarelto

Based on the doctor’s evaluation, these may be prescribed for those with AFib.

Bringing the heart’s rhythm under control and into the healthy range is a major objective in managing AFib. There is a wide range of treatment options to accomplish this, including the use of anti-arrhythmic drugs. These medications act to regulate and control the heart’s rhythm and bring it into the normal range. These drugs include:

  • Dofetilide
  • Propafenone
  • Pacerone
  • Sotalol
  • Flecainide.

Your doctor considers many factors in deciding the method and approach for AFib treatment and, in some cases, treatment with medications may not be sufficient. In those situations, the doctor may recommend a surgical approach or a combination of medications and surgery.

If you feel you have AFib or feel your heart racing, fibrillating, or ‘flopping’ you should see a physician for an evaluation. The medical staff at Atrial Fibrillation Center Of America specializes in diagnosing, treating, and managing all types of arrhythmias including AFib. If you feel you should visit with a physician, please give our office a call and schedule an appointment. One of our professional staff will be glad to assist you. Call today, (832) 478-5067.

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