How to Treat Atrial Fibrillation

Left undiagnosed, atrial fibrillation will cause your heart to beat erratically and may lead to stroke or heart failure. While precise causes of this condition may be elusive, there are a variety of steps you can take to treat atrial fibrillation.

Things You'll Need

  • Medication
  • Exercise program
  • Cardioversion
  • Catheter ablation

Instructions

    • 1

      Understand atrial fibrillation (AF or A-Fib)) and its effects on your heart. In cases of atrial fibrillation, your heart beats irregularly and has a fast rhythm. Typically, a heart beats between 60 and 80 times each minute. If you suffer from AF, your heart rate can increase to between 300 and 600 beats per minute.

    • 2

      Evaluate the best treatment option recommended by your doctor. Take into account how long you have suffered from atrial fibrillation, the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your condition.

    • 3

      Change your lifestyle to avoid aggravating your atrial fibrillation. Start by lowering your intake of nicotine, alcohol and caffeine. Follow up with eating heart-healthy foods, reduce the sodium in your diet and include exercise in your daily routine.

    • 4

      Consult with your physician on the most effective medication. An anticoagulant is usually the first line of defense in treating atrial fibrillation because it reduces blood clots that can further damage your heart. Additional medications may be prescribed to help return your heartbeat to a normal rhythm.

    • 5

      Reset your heart's rhythm with a procedure known as cardioversion. This can be done using oral or intravenous drugs or electric shock. Your physician may prescribe a blood thinner prior to the procedure to lower the chance of clots or stroke.

    • 6

      Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for applying radio frequency energy to your atrioventricular (AV) node via a catheter. The protocol is appropriate if you have difficulty tolerating medications, of if they are ineffective in regulating your heart rate.

Tips & Warnings

  • Generally, atrial fibrillation is not considered life-threatening.
  • Changing your lifestyle and taking prescribed medications are effective ways to treat atrial fibrillation.
  • Occasionally, atrial fibrillation corrects or "resets" itself.
  • Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.
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