Atrial Fibrillation Treatment and Prevention in 2022
Some of reatment options for atrial fibrillation include medications, nonsurgical procedures, and surgery to normalize your heart rhythm.
Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) involves abnormal electrical activity in the upper chambers (atria) of your heart, which causes the organ to beat quickly and irregularly.
This abnormal beating results in too little blood being pumped throughout your body, and can cause symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
It’s important to get diagnosed and treated for atrial fibrillation as soon as possible, before the condition causes dangerous complications like blood clots, heart disease, or a stroke.
The goals of treatment for atrial fibrillation are to restore your heart’s natural rhythm and rate, help prevent blood clots, and reduce your stroke risk. Treatment should also involve addressing any underlying health problems that have caused or contributed to the condition.
Lifestyle Changes to Keep Your Heart Regular
A number of heart-healthy lifestyle changes may help to address atrial fibrillation. They include:
Following a diet designed to reduce your risk of heart disease — such as the DASH diet, which aims to lower blood pressure — can help improve atrial fibrillation and reduce your risk of complications.
Being Physically Active
Even if you don’t lose weight, physical activity can help keep your heart muscle in good shape and improve your blood pressure.
It’s important, though, to exercise in a way that’s safe and doesn’t make the condition worse.
In some people, stress can contribute to high blood pressure and make your condition worse. Try stress-relief techniques like meditation, guided relaxation, or gentle exercise, like yoga.
Limiting or Avoiding Alcohol and Other Drugs
Heavy drinking, in particular, can worsen atrial fibrillation in some people.
So can certain stimulant drugs, whether legally prescribed, in over-the-counter (OTC) products like cough or cold medications, or in illegal street drugs.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can trigger atrial fibrillation symptoms in some people.
Not Smoking Smoking tobacco can contribute to atrial fibrillation and raise your risk for complications. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about getting help to quit.
Medications for An Irregular Heartbeat
Your doctor may prescribe drugs related to your atrial fibrillation for a few major reasons:
- To control your heart’s rhythm
- To control your heart’s rate
- To help prevent blood clots and reduce stroke risk
- Controlling Heart Rhythm
A number of drugs may be used to help return your heart to its normal rhythm (often called sinus rhythm), or to maintain this rhythm.
Some of the most commonly used drugs include:
- amiodarone (Cordarone)
- dofetilide (Tikosyn)
- flecainide (Tambocor)
- propafenone (Rythmol)
- dronedarone (Multaq)
- sotalol (Betapace) (2,5)
- dronedarone (Multaq)
When you first start taking drugs to control your heart rhythm, you may need to stay in the hospital for monitoring.
It’s possible that your doctor will test different drugs to figure out which one is right for you.
Antiarrhythmic drugs are effective about 30 to 60 percent of the time, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Controlling Heart Rate Your doctor may also prescribe drugs that help slow your heart rate, such as:
Beta blockers, including: acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin), and bisoprolol (Zebeta)
Calcium-channel blockers, including diltiazem (Cardizem) and verapamil (Calan)
Preventing Blood Clots
Avoiding clots is a major treatment goal for people with atrial fibrillation, since a blood clot can block an artery in the brain, causing a stroke.
Anticoagulants, or blood thinners, are the most effective drugs for preventing blood clots. They include:
- warfarin (Coumadin)
- apixaban (Eliquis)
- dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- rivaroxaban (Xarelto) (3)
- edoxaban (Savaysa)
These drugs can, however, increase your risk of bleeding and could have other side effects.
Your doctor will evaluate your risk of having a stroke, and if you’re considered to be at moderate to high risk, you may be prescribed an anticoagulant.
Nonsurgical Procedures to Restore Normal Heart Rhythm
As an alternative to medications or if medications don’t work well enough, your doctor may use one of several nonsurgical procedures to restore your normal heart rhythm:
Electrical Cardioversion Performed under deep anesthesia, electrical cardioversion involves receiving low-energy electrical shocks through your chest from a machine.
These shocks can help reset your heart rhythm, but your atrial fibrillation may return in the future.
Catheter Ablation If medications aren’t effective in preventing atrial fibrillation, your doctor may recommend a procedure in which a catheter (a thin, flexible wire) is inserted into a vein in your arm or leg and threaded to your heart.
Energy — in the form of radio waves, a laser, or cryotherapy — is then passed through the catheter to destroy areas of heart tissue that are sending abnormal electrical signals.
The most common area of the heart targeted with catheter ablation is the region where the veins from the lungs (pulmonary veins) connect to the left atrium.
Catheter ablation can also be utilized when treatments to restore a normal heart rhythm have become ineffective. In this situation, ablation of the main electrical connection between the atria and ventricles is performed to prevent the heart rate from going too fast. A pacemaker is also implanted in these situations.
If other treatments don’t work, or if you have certain factors — such as a valvular heart disease — your doctor may recommend surgical ablation (maze procedure) in conjunction with a repair/replacement of the dysfunctional heart valve. Surgical ablation for atrial fibrillation can also be performed at the time of other heart surgeries.
In this procedure, a surgeon will create a number of small cuts or burns in the upper chambers of your heart. When these injuries heal, they’ll form scar tissue that prevents abnormal electrical signals from spreading through your heart. The resulting pattern of scar tissue on your heart resembles a maze, as there will be only a single path for electrical signals to travel to your heart’s lower chambers.
Surgical ablation may be performed as open-heart surgery (often when you’re already having surgery, such as to repair heart valves) or using a minimally invasive technique that involves small incisions and tiny cameras to guide the procedure.
Your surgeon will also generally close off or remove a tiny area of your heart, known as the left atrial appendage, where blood clots are prone to form.
How to Keep Your Heart in Rhythm
Many of the same lifestyle changes that are often recommended to treat afib may also help prevent the condition.
Helpful steps may include:
- Being physically active
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Following a heart-healthy diet
- Limiting alcohol and caffeine
- Managing stress
- Not smoking
Treating or controlling conditions that may contribute to AFib, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol
What is the newest treatment for AFib?
Now, there is a solution for those patients. MU Health Care offers a left atrial appendage (LAA) closure procedure. It’s a minimally invasive surgery that drastically reduces the chance of strokes for patients with nonvalvular AFib. Sandeep Gautam, MD, and Hemant Godara, MD, perform the procedure
What is the most effective treatment for atrial fibrillation?
Cardioversion. Cardioversion may be recommended for some people with atrial fibrillation. It involves giving the heart a controlled electric shock to try to restore a normal rhythm. Cardioversion is usually carried out in hospital so the heart can be carefully monitored.
Which drug is currently given in treating atrial fibrillation?
Three types of medications can be used to restore your normal heart rate: Beta-blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), carvedilol (Coreg), and propranolol (Inderal) Calcium channel blockers such as diltiazem (Cardizem) and verapamil (Verelan) Digoxin (Lanoxin)
What do you know of the latest advances in arrhythmia treatment?
Future advances in arrhythmia management will include improvements in catheter design and energy sources for ablation, and greater monitoring capacity of implantable devices.
What is the safest medication for AFib?
For years, warfarin (Coumadin) was the only oral blood thinner available for preventing strokes caused by AFib, but newer medications called direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) may be a better choice. In most people with AFib, the DOACs are the first-choice medication.
Can a plant based diet reverse AFib?
Reviewing the current evidence, a whole‐food plant‐based diet might be a valuable tool in managing and reducing common risk factors that are associated with atrial fibrillation, including hypertension, coronary artery disease, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes.
What is the gold standard of treatment for atrial fibrillation?
Electrical cardioversion is most frequently used to treat AFib with hemodynamic instability that persists despite medication. It also can be used to treat almost any type of arrhythmia, including atrial flutter and ventricular tachycardia.
How can I prevent atrial fibrillation naturally?
Examples of healthful habits to follow include:
- eating a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- exercising regularly.
- managing high blood pressure through both medications and natural treatments, if desired.
- avoiding excess intakes of alcohol and caffeine.
What are 4 medications that lower your heart rate?
These medications control your heart rhythm by slowing the electrical signals through your heart. This type of treatment is called cardioversion with drugs, or sometimes chemical cardioversion.
Channel Blockers to Control Heart Rhythm
- Flecainide (Tambocor)
- Procainamide (Procanbid)
- Propafenone (Rythmol)
What can worsen atrial fibrillation?
drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, particularly binge drinking. being overweight (read about how to lose weight) drinking lots of caffeine, such as tea, coffee or energy drinks. taking illegal drugs, particularly amphetamines or cocaine.
Can magnesium stop AFib?
When you don’t have enough of it in your body, you may have an irregular heartbeat. Studies suggest magnesium supplements may also help lower blood pressure slightly. Other research has shown that getting magnesium through an IV may help control AFib for some people in the hospital.
What is the best magnesium to take for your heart?
Magnesium citrate is the best magnesium for heart, If heart health is the goal, you’ll actually want a few different forms of magnesium in your supplement! Magnesium citrate is the form of magnesium that your body absorbs with the most ease. Magnesium oxide has a higher level of elemental magnesium in it.
What time of day is it best to take magnesium?
Therefore, magnesium supplements can be taken at any time of the day, as long as you’re able to take them consistently. For some, taking supplements first thing in the morning may be easiest, while others may find that taking them with dinner or just before bed works well for them.
What medications should you not take with magnesium?
Taking magnesium with these medications might cause blood pressure to go too low. Some of these medications include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and others.
Can you take magnesium and vitamin D together?
Yes! You can and should take magnesium and vitamin D together. In fact, the bioavailability of vitamin D largely relies on magnesium. Also, many nutrients wouldn’t work efficiently without magnesium, further highlighting the importance of this mineral!
Why you should not take magnesium?
High doses of magnesium from supplements or medications can cause nausea, abdominal cramping and diarrhea. In addition, the magnesium in supplements can interact with some types of antibiotics and other medicines.