Atrial Fibrillation Treatment Guidelines
The treatment of atrial fibrillation will be based on the patient’s medical condition, including the duration of the symptoms. The goal of treatment is to restore and maintain a heart rhythm, as well as prevent blood clots. The first way that can be done is through the provision of drugs, such as:
- Anticoagulant drugs, to prevent blood clots and overcome blood clots that have occurred. Examples of drugs usually given are aspirin and warfarin. Nevertheless, anticoagulant drugs have side effects such as the risk of bleeding.
- Heart rate control drug, to control or restore heart rate to normal position. Drugs that can be given is a beta blocker to make the heart beat more slowly (eg, atenolol, biropolol, or metoprolol), drugs calcium channel blockers to reduce the contraction of muscle cells (eg, diltiazem and verapamil) and digoxin to reduce the acceleration of the heart rate from the atria to the ventricles .
- Antiarrhythmias to prevent the occurrence of atrial fibrillation in the future. Examples of these drugs are defetilide, flecainide, propafenone, amiodarone, or sotalol. Possible side effects are dizziness, nausea, or fatigue.
In addition to drug administration, there are also several noninvasive action options (without surgery). These actions can be:
- Electrical cardioversion. In this procedure, an electric shock is given to the chest area. The electric shock will stop the heart’s electrical activity for a moment and can then restore the heartbeat to normal. This procedure is preceded by anesthesia.
- Catheter ablation. This procedure is to disable the abnormal electrical trigger points on the heart, by inserting an ablation tool with a catheter through a blood vessel in the groin area toward the heart.
- Ablation of the atriventricular nodes. This procedure is performed to disable the atrioventrucular node (AV node), so that abnormal electrical signals from the atria are not transmitted to the ventricle. With the inactivity of the AV node, the heart’s ventricle does not get an electric impulse and stops throbbing. For that, a pacemaker is installed to provide a normal electrical impulse to the ventricles.
If the above measures have not been able to overcome the problem of atrial fibrillation, then further treatment methods that may be recommended are surgical or surgical procedures, such as:
- Pacemaker installation. Pacemakers will be installed on the collarbone under the skin. Its function is to transmit electrical signals that can keep the heart rate under normal circumstances.
- Maze procedure. In this open heart surgery procedure, the doctor makes small incisions at the top of the heart. The incision will form scar tissue that can inhibit the delivery of abnormal electrical impulses that cause atrial fibrillation. As a result, too soon the heartbeat can return to normal.