Watch what happens with AFib and how it can cause other conditions.
treat an 80-year-old with multiple heart
problems and pulmonary conditions,”
Generally speaking, the goal of
treatment is to prevent complications
and improve the patient’s quality
of life by controlling symptoms
and improving function. The two major approaches to
treatment are: 1) to control the heart rate; or 2) rhythm
control, intended to return the patient to normal rhythm,
and then try to maintain it. Whichever treatment is used,
if the patient meets certain risk criteria, he or she will
also be treated to prevent blood clots that increase the risk
for stroke. “If the patient is not symptomatic, the choice
may be just to control the heart rate and prevent stroke,”
McCabe said. “However, if the patient has symptoms
and AFib is not well-tolerated, then the strategy of
trying to control and then maintain normal rhythm may
be preferred. Either treatment strategy could include
medication or procedures or a combination of medications
Because of the risk of stroke, most AFib patients take
an anticoagulant to prevent the formation of blood clots.
For many years, warfarin was used for that. Warfarin
requires constant monitoring and some dietary restrictions.
It must be monitored with blood tests and carries an
increased risk of bleeding.
A new generation of blood thinners has been developed
because of the problems with warfarin. They include
dabigatran, rivaroxaban, edoxaban and apixaban. They are
not as temperamental as warfarin, and studies indicate that
they are at least as effective at preventing blood clots.
Patients early in their course of AFib may undergo
cardioversion. This involves a temporary electrical
stimulus applied to the heart. “With this procedure we’re
trying to get the electrical properties of the heart all on one
page, so to speak,” McCabe said. “When we’re successful
In order to prevent people from having
strokes or other consequences, it is
necessary to detect AFib early.