When a patient develops an irregular heartbeat it is known as atrial fibrillation or AFib. AFib occurs when the upper chambers of the heart start to beat out of rhythm and become out of sync with the lower heart chambers. Atrial signs & symptoms can be a scary experience.
A patient will know that they are having episodic events of atrial fibrillation symptoms if they experience a fluttering feeling in the chest. If they feel like their heart is racing and is irregular, if they experience some dizziness, and shortness of breath.
The atrial fibrillation symptoms that the patient needs to be aware of are generalized weakness, feeling of faintness, fatigue especially upon any kind of normal exertion, sweating profusely, and chest pain.
There are some patients that will not experience any atrial signs or symptoms at all. Quite frequently the doctor may discover an AFib concern during a yearly routine physical, and EKG.
Even for the patient who experiences no atrial signs & symptoms stand a much greater risk for a stroke occurring. It will be at this point that the doctor will recommend that the patient seek atrial fibrillation treatment under a cardiologist.
Since each patient is individual in their treatments for atrial fibrillation, the cardiologist will want to gear specific treatments for atrial fibrillation according to the patient’s specific needs. The focus of any treatment plan for AFib is to restore the normal heart rhythm, keeping the heart beat at an acceptable rate and a plan to help prevent blood clots from developing.
One treatment option is generally saved until the last treatment option in the event that there has been no success seen in other treatments. This treatment entails a cardioversion. The doctor will electrically shock the heart into a normal rhythm.
Another treatment is known as catheter radiofrequency ablation. The doctor will thread a micro catheter through blood vessels to the heart. Heat is applied through radiofrequency energy to destroy the heart tissues that is causing the AFib.
Atrial fibrillation treatment requires medications to play a big part in helping to correct this condition. Medicines such as anticoagulants or blood thinners may control AFib. If the AFib is serious enough the cardiologist may want to install a pacemaker to help regulate the heart rate.
If the patient has seen little success with their treatment plan, the cardiac surgeon may decide to do heart surgery that will disrupt electrical signals that are causing the AFib. The patient will remain a cardiac patient, and will need cardiac workups at intervals according to the desire of the cardiologist.
New treatments for atrial fibrillation is a difficult heart problem to treat, and not every individual is going to require the same treatment, or will likely respond in the same way. Researchers have on the horizon, new surgical treatment options, plus a new drug to treat AFib that is showing much promise, however the long term use is unclear at this point in time. Multag or dronedarone, was approved by the FDA in November 2012 to treat AFib.
This drug decreased the inpatient hospital stays and reduced a risk for death due to cardiovascular concerns. As with any medication as mentioned before, side effects can become present. Any patient who has had severe heart failure should not take this medication, due to the risk for death.
As with all medications, there are side effects. One treatment option that shows promise is an old option. The medication amiodarone will correct AFib in time, but the end result could be worse, such as pulmonary fibrosis, or it could make an AFib condition worse in some cases.
New treatments for atrial fibrillation may include the surgical procedure briefly mentioned earlier, radiofrequency catheter ablation which is a fairly new surgical procedure that is also showing promise.
When this surgical procedure is matched with the available medications, many more patients are deciding that this procedure is much less risky than the possibility of developing medication side effects. Researchers continue to work on new treatments for atrial fibrallation and many more are showing promise, but are not ready for public use at this time.