Afib, the short term for Atrial fibrillation is a cardiac issue where the heart beats irregularly and causes fatigue, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and various health problems because the heart isn’t beating correctly. Afib can even increase one’s stroke risk. There are many treatments for Afib and finding the right one is difficult because there is none known treatment that is both safe and at the same time effective in restoring a regular heart rhythm. The main goal in treating Afib is to control the rate of the heart and to determine and even eliminate the reason behind the irregular beating before it causes other health problems.
Top 4 Treatments for Atrial Fibrilation
- Blood clot treatments
- Installing a pacemaker
- Maze surgery
- Lifestyle changes
Blood Clot Treatments
Those with Afib are at a higher risk of strokes than those without the problem. Blood collects in the upper chambers of the heart giving it time to create clots. These clots can break away and go through the bloodstream reaching the brain causing a stroke. Blood clot prevention medication—often referred to as “blood thinners” even though it doesn’t actually thin blood—is critical to prevent these clots from occurring. There are some side effects of blood clot medications as there are with any medication, so patients should consult with their doctor frequently.
- Warfarin is the most common blood thinner.
- Blood thinners don’t actually thin blood.
- Side effects are possible.
Installing a Pacemaker
A pacemaker is a medical device a physician implants into the patient that sends electrical pulses to the heart so it beats at a regular rate. There are single-chamber and dual-chamber pacemakers to synchronize the heart’s rhythm. Pacemakers can be implanted into the chest or the abdomen and uses an antennae to regulate the heart’s rate. It can stimulate the left and right ventricles or top and lower ventricles of the heart. Pacemakers treat slow heart rhythms and particular kinds of heart failure. There are both permanent and temporary pacemakers based on the patient’s needs.
This open heart surgery requires the surgeon to make tiny incisions or burns into the atria of the hear to prevent certain electrical signals from spreading. This procedure stops the electrical impulses from taking multiple paths, causing the afib. The name, “maze” is coined by the linear scars the physician leaves on the heart’s four chambers after the surgery like a maze. Patients who receive Maze Surgery usually have a long record of other heart problems and have tried all other options without success. There is a high percentage of success with patients who receive Maze surgery.
There is a definite association between lifestyles and Afib symptoms. For example, being overweight, living a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, etc. all play a role in this unhealthy heart cause and effect situation. Excess fat cells that form around the heart has a huge effect on the heart’s chambers increasing inflammation, neurological patterns and afib. Reserach indicates that excess weight and no exercise more often than not causes afib and when lifestyle changes are made and continued the irregular heart problem is reduced and even eliminated. The first lifestyle changes are to quit smoking, lose weight, increase physical activity and eat healthier, heart friendly foods.
Those experiencing heart flutters, irregular heart, shortness of breath beat should consult their physician to see what is the right course of action, whether it be lifestyle adjustments, medication or surgery. Atrial fibrillation is a serious medical problem that shouldn’t be ignored one or a combination of the above treatments could improve a patient’s overall health, reduce their stroke risk and more importantly save their life.