Know your treatment goals
The treatment goals of atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) start with a proper diagnosis through an in-depth examination from a physician. The exam usually includes questions about your history and often an EKG or ECG. Some patients may need a thorough electrophysiology study.
Prevention and Risk Reduction
Although no one is able to absolutely guarantee that a stroke or a clot can be preventable, there are ways to reduce risks for developing these problems.
After a patient is diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, the ideal goals may include:
- Restoring the heart to a normal rhythm (called rhythm control)
- Reducing an overly high heart rate (called rate control)
- Preventing blood clots (called prevention of thromboembolism such as stroke)
- Managing risk factors for stroke
- Preventing additional heart rhythm problems
- Preventing heart failure
Getting Back on Beat
Avoiding atrial fibrillation and subsequently lowering your stroke risk can be as simple as foregoing your morning cup of coffee. In other words, some AFib cases are only as strong as their underlying cause. If hyperthyroidism is the cause of AFib, treating the thyroid condition may be enough to make AFib go away.
Doctors can use a variety of different medications to help control the heart rate during atrial fibrillation.
"These medications, such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, work on the AV node," says Dr. Andrea Russo of University of Pennsylvania Health System. "They slow the heart rate and may help improve symptoms. However, they do not 'cure' the rhythm abnormality, and patients still require medication to prevent strokes while remaining in atrial fibrillation."
Learn more about the treatment guidelines for AFib.
This content was last reviewed on 04/16/14.