Atrial Fibrillation - DrCRaghu

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Atrial fibrillation is a progressive heart disease that can’t be cured. But the right course of treatment can help control afib symptoms and help patients live a close-to-normal life.

If you want to learn more about diagnosing atrial fibrillation, check out our previous blog posts.

Advancements in medical research have led to the development of different treatments for atrial fibrillation. Typically, you can choose from two treatment options – heart rate control and heart rhythm control.

Let’s take a look at the available treatment options and help you choose the right one.

Afib Treatment: Controlling Heart Rate

Rate control is an effective afib treatment option that involves controlling abnormal electrical activity in the atria to slow down the heart. This can be achieved with the help of medications or a surgical procedure.

Medications for Rate Control

Rate control medications slow down the conduction of electrical signals in the heart to prevent it from beating faster. These include:

  • Beta-blockers like atenolol (Tenormin), bisoprolol (Concor), carvedilol (Cardivas), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol), etc.
  • Calcium-channel blockers like diltiazem (Dilzem) and verapamil (Calaptin)
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin)

Beta-blockers and calcium-channel blockers (CCBs) are more widely used. However, they can cause side effects, such as headaches and dizziness.

Digoxin is prescribed to patients who can’t take beta-blockers or CCBs. Potential side effects include anxiety, mood swings, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.

Irrespective of the type of medication you take, it can take time to identify the correct dosage. Also, your doctor might ask you to wear a Holter monitor to understand whether the medication is working.

AV Ablation

If rate control medications don’t work for a patient, they can undergo a procedure called AV ablation. It involves destroying cells in the atrioventricular node in the right atrium and installing a pacemaker to stabilize the heart rate.

Afib Treatment: Controlling Heart Rhythm

If afib symptoms, such as dizziness and fatigue, disrupt your normal life, your doctor might recommend treatment options to control the heart rhythm. However, it’s worth noting that it involves more serious side effects and risks.

The most commonly used rhythm control treatments for afib include:

Antiarrhythmics

Antiarrhythmics are medications that help the heart maintain its normal rhythm. These include:

  • Amiodarone (Cordarone)
  • Disopyramide (Norpace)
  • Dronedarone (Multaq)
  • Flecainide (Tambocor)
  • Propafenone (Rythmonorm)
  • Sotalol (Sotagard)

Cardioversion

Cardioversion is a medical procedure that restores the heart’s normal sinus rhythm using electrical impulses or antiarrhythmic medications. Electrical cardioversion initially works for 90% of patients. Doctors often recommend rhythm control medications after the procedure to keep the heart’s rhythm in check.

It’s worth noting that cardioversion increases your risk of stroke. So, you might have to take anticoagulants for a month before and after the procedure.

Catheter Ablation

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that controls an abnormal heart rhythm by destroying tiny spots of tissues in the atrium. It involves the use of heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold(cryoablation).

Risks and complications of catheter ablation include stroke, heart attack, damage to blood vessels, and fluid buildup around the heart.

Choosing the Right Treatment

Your choice of afib treatment depends on various factors, including your age and how long you’ve had afib. For instance, if you’re young and have been newly diagnosed, cardioversion or catheter ablation might deliver better results. Rhythm control treatment is also essential for patients who experience severe symptoms.

On the other hand, if you’re older and don’t experience significant symptoms, such as dizziness, palpitation, and fatigue, rate control treatment might be better suited for you.

In Conclusion

Treating atrial fibrillation involves controlling the heart’s rate and rhythm to minimize bothersome symptoms. If you’ve been experiencing frequent afib episodes, consult your doctor right away to explore your treatment options.

Dr. C Raghu is a renowned cardiologist with more than two decades of experience. If you’ve been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, reach out to Dr. Raghu today to choose the right treatment plan for your condition.

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    Atrial Fibrillation Treatment: Choosing a Long-Term Strategy and Controlling Heart Rate and Rhythm Blog

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      Atrial fibrillation (AFib) interferes with the normal functioning of the heart. It can lead to blood clots, which, in turn, can result in a stroke or heart failure. That makes it crucial to diagnose the condition early on and start the necessary treatment.

      If you have been experiencing symptoms like palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, and shortness of breath, it’s important to consult a medical practitioner.

      What to Expect When You Visit a Doctor?

      If you think you’re at risk of developing AFib or already have the condition, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and symptoms. It’s a good idea to maintain a list of any unusual symptoms you might have been experiencing. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and diabetes, make sure you let the doctor know.

      Additionally, the doctor might ask questions about your family history and lifestyle. Once they have the necessary information, they’ll order one or more of the following tests before diagnosing AFib.

      Blood Tests

      These include tests to check your kidney, liver, and thyroid function. They’ll help identify underlying conditions, like hyperthyroidism, that might be causing afib episodes. Also, they’ll help your doctor decide the right course of AFib treatment.

      Periodic ECG especially during palpitations is immensely helpful to diagnose AFib.

      Chest X-Ray

      It’ll help identify conditions, such as COPD and heart failure, that could be causing AFib.

      Electrocardiogram (ECG)

      It helps monitor the heart’s electrical activity and detect any abnormalities in the heart rate and rhythm.

      Exercise Stress Test

      It involves undergoing an ECG while exercising on a treadmill or stationary bicycle. It helps identify conditions like coronary artery disease.

      Echocardiogram (Echo)

      It generates detailed images of the heart’s structure and movement to help doctors identify faulty valves and other defects.

      Long-term ECG monitoring devices introduced in recent times for the diagnosis of infrequent brief episodes of AFib

      Portable Heart beat Monitoring

      Your doctor might ask you to wear a portable device, like a Holter monitor or cardiac event recorder, to monitor brief and infrequent AFib episodes.

      If you don’t have any noticeable symptoms but are worried that you might be at risk of developing afib in the future, you can talk to your doctor about getting screened for the condition.

      Stroke is a debilitating consequence of AFib. People who benefit from anticoagulants can be identified by CHA2DS2-VASc score.

      Stroke Prevention and Atrial Fibrillation

      Experts believe that AFib is responsible for at least 20% of all strokes. Also, it can increase your risk of having a stroke by up to five times. If you’ve been diagnosed with the condition, it’s crucial that you talk to your doctor about stroke prevention.

      Risk Assessment

      The first thing a doctor will do is evaluate your risk of stroke. They calculate the CHA2DS2-VASc score, which is an acronym for:

      • C: Congestive heart failure
      • H: High blood pressure
      • A: Age 75 and older
      • D: Diabetes
      • S: Previous stroke
      • V: Vascular disease
      • A: Age 65 to 74
      • Sc: Sex

      Anticoagulant Medications

      Depending on your score, the doctor might prescribe anticoagulants or blood thinners to prevent the formation of blood clots. While warfarin used to be the most commonly used anticoagulant, doctors now prescribe other drugs like:

      • Apixaban (Eliquis)
      • Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
      • Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)

      Surgery

      If you can’t take blood thinner due to any medical condition, you can undergo a procedure called left atrial appendage closure to minimize your risk of stroke due to AFib.

      Timely diagnosis and proper treatment can improve the quality of life and longevity of individuals with AFib. If you experience any symptoms of AFib, make sure you immediately consult a doctor.

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          atrial-fibrilliation.jpg

          Atrial fibrillation, also known as afib or A-fib, is a medical condition that causes the heart to beat irregularly and quickly. It affects more than 3 million people in the US. While the normal human heart beats at 60 to 100 beats per minute, afib can increase the rate to 400 to 600 beats per minute. That, in turn, can increase an individual’s risk of stroke and heart failure.

          If you’re wondering whether you have afib, it’s essential to watch out for the common symptoms of the condition. But let’s first take a look at the different types of afib.

          Types of Atrial Fibrillation

          Depending on the duration of afib episodes, the condition can be categorized as:

          • Paroxysmal (Intermittent) – Episodes last for less than seven days and stop without medical intervention
          • Persistent (Continuous) – Episodes last for more than a week and require a doctor’s intervention
          • Permanent (Long-standing) – Afib episodes that have been happening for more than a year (making it difficult to restore the heart’s normal rhythm)

          In the absence of proper treatment, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation can progress to persistent and permanent afib. That emphasizes the importance of diagnosing the condition at an early stage.

          90% of afib episodes may not cause any noticeable symptoms.

          Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

          If an individual has afib, it can cause the following symptoms:

          • Chest pain or pressure
          • Palpitation
          • Dizziness
          • Fainting
          • General weakness
          • Fatigue
          • Shortness of breath
          • Swollen ankles or feet

          It’s worth noting that nearly 90% of afib episodes may not cause any noticeable symptoms. You might come to know that you have afib only when you get an electrocardiogram as part of a routine heart checkup.

          Majority get to know AFib only when they get an electrocardiogram (ECG) as part of a routine heart checkup.

          Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

          Typically, afib is the result of irregular electrical signals from the walls of the pulmonary veins that carry blood from the lungs to the left atrium. It can happen due to the following factors:

          Age: As an individual grows older, their risk of developing afib increases. While only 2% of people younger than 65 years have afib, that figure rises to 9% for people older than 65 years.

          Gender: Men are at a higher risk of developing afib. However, women with afib experience more severe symptoms and have a worse quality of life.

          Genetics: People with a family history of afib could be at a higher risk of developing the condition.

          Alcohol Consumption: Alcohol use disorders, such as binge drinking, can damage the heart muscles and increase your likelihood of developing afib.

          Heart Diseases

          Atrial fibrillation is more common in people with cardiovascular diseases, such as:

          Also, people who have undergone major heart surgeries or have a malfunctioning pacemaker are at risk of developing afib.

          Pre-existing Medical Conditions

          People with the following medical conditions can have a propensity for afib:

          • Obesity
          • Diabetes
          • Chronic kidney disease
          • Obstructive sleep apnea
          • Hyperthyroidism
          • Pulmonary embolism
          • Pneumonia
          • COPD

          In Conclusion

          Afib is a serious heart condition that can have life-threatening consequences. If you think you’re at risk of developing the condition or have been experiencing symptoms like palpitations and dizziness, make sure you consult an experienced cardiologist right away.

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              Introduction

              Atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF) is when your heart’s upper chambers (Atria) beat irregularly and out of sync. The heart’s pumping function isn’t as strong or efficient as it should be because the atria aren’t squeezing in rhythm as they should be. This can cause an increased risk of stroke or reduce the pumping efficiency of the heart. Fortunately, with treatment, you can prevent stroke and live longer.

              Anyone can develop atrial fibrillation. The risk of AF increases with age, especially after age 65. But it also affects younger people who have had heart failure or other underlying conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. People who smoke are more likely to develop AFib than non-smokers. High blood Pressure is another risk factor for developing the condition. Diabetes can also be a contributor because the disease often leads to heart problems like valve damage or increased stiffness of heart muscles. which could lead to atrial fibrillation.

              AFib Symptoms Can Be Mild or Severe

              Atrial fibrillation symptoms can be mild or severe, which include, but are not limited to:

              • Palpitations (a sensation of fluttering in the chest)
              • Fatigue
              • Dizziness
              • Shortness of breath

              There Are Three Types of Treatment For AFib

              There are three types of treatment for atrial fibrillation.

              • Medications: The most common medications include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and anticoagulants. These drugs are used to keep your heart rhythm steady and treat the symptoms of AFib.
              • Catheter Ablation: In this procedure, a thin tube called a catheter is inserted into either arm or groin area where an electric current is delivered directly into abnormal tissue triggering heart muscle contraction so that electrical waves are not able to form again
              • Surgery: If medications don’t control your symptoms, surgery may be an option. However, it’s only performed as a part of another surgery – usually a valve replacement surgery. In this procedure criss-cross incisions are made in the atria wall so that there are no abnormal electric circuits that are persistent.. There are two types of surgery options: one is done on the surface of the heart (called ablation) with another that goes through open chest surgery (called surgery).

              If you’re living with atrial fibrillation, there are several medications that can help keep your heart rate regular and reduce your risk of stroke.

              • Anticoagulants can reduce the risk of blood clots forming in your heart or elsewhere in the body.
              • Beta-blockers lower heart rate and blood pressure, making it easier for your body to pump blood. They may also help relieve chest pain and dizziness caused by irregular heartbeat (known as palpitations).
              • Calcium channel blockers can improve blood flow through narrowed arteries by affecting the way calcium travels through them, reducing the stress on the heart muscles.

              Conclusion

              If you’ve been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, don’t panic. It is a treatable condition, and the right treatment can make it almost as easy to manage as other common conditions like hypertension or diabetes. If you feel like something might be wrong with your heart and want to know more about AFib treatment options, talk to your doctor or go see a cardiologist today.

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                Atrial Fibrillation – A Common Treatable Condition Blog

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                  atrial-fibrillation-factor.jpg

                  Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is one of the most common heart arrhythmias (irregular or abnormal beating). It happens when your heart’s upper chambers (the atria) beat abnormally fast and out of rhythm. It can lead to severe complications like blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. So you must know how AFib affects your body and what to do about it.

                  The Heart Is a Smart Pump

                  The heart is a muscular organ that’s divided into four chambers. The tricuspid valve separates the right atrium and ventricle, and the mitral valve separates the left atrium and ventricle. The heart can’t just pump blood around your body; it also has to know what’s going on and how to respond. The heart can do this because of the electrical system within its walls.

                  The heart’s electrical system is made up of two different types of cells: pacemaker cells and conducting cells. The pacemaker cells are found in the upper right chamber. They generate an electrical impulse that travels through the conducting system to stimulate the contraction of your ventricles (right and left).

                  Beating of a Heart

                  A heartbeat is caused by electrical signals traveling through the heart chambers and valves to tell them how hard to contract at what time. The sinoatrial node (SA node) sends these signals out; it’s located at the junction of your right atrium and superior vena cava. The SA node acts as the central command for your cardiac rhythm. It keeps track of all your electrical activity and coordinates how to pump blood efficiently throughout the body.

                  What Happens in Atrial Fibrillation

                  Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder where abnormal electrical signals from an overactive nerve cause the atria to contract too quickly and chaotically, which causes blood to pool in the upper chambers of your heart instead of flowing smoothly into the ventricles.

                  It can lead to symptoms like:

                  • Palpitations (heart pounding)
                  • Shortness of breath
                  • Fatigue
                  • Dizziness
                  • Fainting
                  • Sweating

                  Types of Atrial Fibrillation

                  Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type, is a temporary condition that can last a few minutes or several days. When you have paroxysmal AF, you may experience symptoms such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Some people also experience chest pain or lightheadedness in addition to the above symptoms.

                  Persistent atrial fibrillation is an ongoing condition with abnormal heart rhythms that last longer than three months. But it’s not considered chronic AFib if you don’t experience any symptoms from them.

                  Permanent atrial fibrillation is another type of long-term irregular heartbeat that occurs when all the cells in your heart’s upper chambers develop arrhythmias (irregular electrical signals) for an extended period.

                  Conclusion

                  Atrial fibrillation is a common heart condition that can be serious. It’s important to know the symptoms of atrial fibrillation and how you can manage it. If you think you have atrial fibrillation, contact your doctor right away so they can help diagnose and treat the condition before it gets worse!

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