Atrial fibrilation treatmentAtrial fibrilation like all heart diseases needs special treatment and medical advice. Not treating this condition properly can lead to complications that may put the patient’s life in danger. The treatment depends on the patient and on the type of atrial fibrilation that needs to be treated.
The atrial fibrilation can be controlled with anti-arrhythmic medications. This type of medication has two possible goals: to control the frequency of heart beats or to restore a normal heart rhythm . The drugs that can be used in order to restore a normal heart rhythm are: beta-blockers, flecainide, amiodarone. In order to reduce the heart rhythm a calcium channel blocker (verapamil) or a beta-blocker (atenolol) will be used. The purpose is to reduce the heart rate under 90 beats a minute.
Anty-arrhytmics may have side effects. For instance, Flecainide can cause nausea; beta-blockers can cause coldness of hands, nightmares, impotence or low blood presure. In the case of amiodarone the side effects are: lung problems, sensitivity to sunlight, changes in the thyroid function. Verapamil is responsible for low blood pressure, constipation, heart failure.
The long term of atrial fibrillation treatment has to reduce recurrence, to control the ventricular rate and very important to reduce the stroke risk. Patients that suffer from atrial fibrillation should take warfarin or aspirin for blood anticoagulation. Patients that suffer from atrial fibrillation are prone to peripheral embolism or stroke.
The most serious side efeect of anticoagulation with warfarin is bleeding. A patient is more likely to suffer from bleeding if he or she is older than 75 years old, has renal disease, presents a history of bleeding, anemia, supratherapeutic INR, diabetes mellitus.
Patients with depressed ejection fraction, prior MI, atrial dilation or other structural heart disease after taking antiarrhythmic drugs can have serious side effects.
Atiral fibrillation can be surgical treated by catheter ablation. After ablation of paroxysmal AF, treatment with aniarrhythimic drugs is recommended. Another minor surgical procedure meant to treat this condition consists in fitting a pacemaker. This procedure may be used when medicines don’t have a positive effect.
Also, cardioversion may have good results in atrial fibrillation treatment This consist in giving the heart a controlled electric shock for restoring the rhythm. If the atrial fibrillation lasted more than 2 days, cardioversion may cause clot formation. In this case, the patient may receive warfarin 4 weeks before and another 4 weeks after the cardioversion.
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