Atrial Fibrillation Treatment in Waco, Tx: Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is an irregular and very rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that may lead to blood clots in the heart. With atrial fibrillation, the heart quivers, skip beats or beats irregularly. It cannot function perfectly or pump blood through its chambers and out to the body as it should.
Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of heart failure, stroke, and other heart-related issues. About 2.6 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation.
During atrial fibrillation, the atria (the heart’s upper chambers) beat irregularly and chaotically. Many people think atrial fibrillation has no symptoms. However, atrial fibrillation may cause a fast, pounding heartbeat (palpitations), weakness, or shortness of breath.
Series of atrial fibrillation may be persistent or they may come and go. Although atrial fibrillation itself is not usually life-threatening, it is a serious medical condition that requires proper and rapid treatment to prevent stroke.
Treatment for atrial fibrillation may require medications or therapy to reset the heartbeat and catheter procedures to block faulty heart signals. Someone with atrial fibrillation may also have a heart rhythm-related problem called atrial flutter. Although atrial flutter is a different arrhythmia, the treatment is quite similar to atrial fibrillation treatment.
Causes of Atrial Fibrillation
To understand the causes of atrial fibrillation, it may be helpful to understand how the heart typically beats. Problems with the heart’s structure are mostly the cause of atrial fibrillation. Common causes of atrial fibrillation include:
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Heart attack
- A heart defect that you’re born with (congenital heart defect)
- Heart valve problems
- Coronary artery disease
- Viral infections
- Physical stress as a result of surgery, pneumonia, or other illnesses
- Previous heart surgery
- Thyroid diseases, such as an overactive thyroid
- Lung diseases
- Use of stimulants, caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol
- Problem with the heart’s natural pacemaker
Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Sometimes atrial fibrillation symptoms come and go, usually lasting for about 30minutes to some hours. Sometimes symptoms last for about a week and episodes can happen repeatedly. Symptoms might go on their own. People who occasionally witness atrial fibrillation need treatment.
Some people having atrial fibrillation don’t notice any symptoms at first. Sometimes the symptoms may come as:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sensations of a fast, fluttering, or pounding heartbeat (palpitations).
- Reduced ability to exercise
Sometimes after the symptoms, the heart rhythm doesn’t go back to normal on its own. Treatment with medications may be required to restore and maintain a normal heart rhythm. Sometimes the symptoms persist and last longer than 12 months or may be permanent.
In this case, the irregular heart rhythm can’t be restored. Medications are needed to prevent blood clots and to control the heart rate.
Atrial Fibrillation Treatment
Treatments such as surgery, nonsurgical procedures, and medications, can slow the heartbeat and bring it back to a normal rhythm. Atrial fibrillation treatments can as well prevent clots and also help keep your heart healthy. Below are some treatment measures:
These particular medications thin the blood to lower your chance of having those problems. But they can cause bruises and increase your risk of bleeding, so you may have to cut back on some activities that can lead to injuries. Some of these medications are:
- Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)
- Enoxaparin (Lovenox)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Apixaban (Eliquis)
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
Heart Rate Medicines
Drugs that control the heartbeat are the most common way to treat atrial fibrillation. It slows your rapid heart rate so the heart can pump blood the normal way. Some are known as beta-blockers. They slow the heart rate too. Examples are:
- Timolol (Betimol, Istalol)
- Carvedilol (Coreg)
- Bisoprolol (Zebeta, Ziac),
- Propranolol (Inderal, Innopran)
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol)
Heart Rhythm Medicines
They slow the electrical signals to restore your heartbeat to what is known as a normal sinus rhythm. These treatments are called chemical cardioversion.
Sodium channel blockers that slow the heart’s ability to conduct electricity are:
- Dofetilide (Tikosyn)
- Propafenone (Rythmol)
- Sotalol (Betapace, Sorine, Sotylize)
- Amiodarone (Cordarone, Nexterone Pacerone),
- Flecainide (Tambocor)
You might get them at the hospital or in your doctor’s office. Your doctor will have to monitor you to make sure the medicine is working properly.
Risk of having Atrial Fibrillation
Things that can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation are as follows:
The older a person becomes, the greater the chances of developing atrial fibrillation.
People with heart disease such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart valve problems, congenital heart disease, or a history of heart attack or heart surgery, have more chances of atrial fibrillation.
Drinking alcohol can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation for some people.
High Blood Pressure
Having high blood pressure, especially if it’s not properly controlled with changing of lifestyle or medications can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation.
In some people, thyroid problems may increase their heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), including atrial fibrillation.
People who are obsessed are at higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk of heart disease and can prevent atrial fibrillation. Below are some basic heart-healthy tips:
- Avoid or limit your the intake of alcohol and caffeine
- Don’t smoke
- Get regular exercise
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage stress, cos intense stress and anger can cause heart rhythm problems.
- Eat a nutritious diet
What is the best way to treat Atrial Fibrillation
Heart rate-controlling medicines, like beta-blockers that include Lopressor and Toprol (Metoprolol) and Coreg (Carvedilol), are the best way for atrial fibrillation treatment. These medications can control or slow the rapid heart rate so that the heart can pump and function normally.
People with atrial fibrillation have always been prescribed a combination of medications to prevent complications. Atrial fibrillation medicine may include anti-clotting medications or blood thinners to help prevent the risk of stroke. Medications that control the rate of heartbeats normalize the heart and keep it from beating too fast. Some medications are specifically produced to regulate the electrical rhythm of the heart, controlling it from becoming more irregular and chaotic.
Can Atrial Fibrillation Go Away?
It is very rare for atrial fibrillation to go away on its own. Atrial fibrillation may be sudden and brief with symptoms that come and go. It is very possible to have an atrial fibrillation episode that resolves on its own or maybe the condition will be persistent and require treatment.
Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation is the type that starts suddenly and goes away own on its own. In other words, patients should still be treated and monitored. Usually, atrial fibrillation is always permanent, and medicines or other nonsurgical treatments can’t restore the heart rhythm completely.
What is the life expectancy with atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation can impact your health and life span in so many ways. Overall, mortality rates are three times higher in people with atrial fibrillation than in the population in general, although the specific cause of death varies greatly.
Deaths linked to atrial fibrillation dropped greatly in the early part of the 21st century before hitting a plateau, but mortality rates associated with atrial fibrillation have been on the rise especially in younger people since about 2011.
Mortality rates with atrial fibrillation are not usually linked directly to the condition itself, but rather to the complications that arise from it.
Should I go to the hospital for atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation episodes rarely cause serious problems, but they need to get checked out. If symptoms worsen or an atrial fibrillation episode lasts up to 24 to 48 hours with no break call your physician.
If you experience any symptoms of a stroke, which are sudden weakness, numbness or difficulty speaking or seeing, call 911 or rush to the emergency room immediately. You should also rush for emergency care if you feel like you are going to pass out, or if you feel weak or you have significant shortness of breath or severe lightheadedness or cold or clammy. If they’re uncomfortable or their heart is beating rapidly, go to an emergency room or call 911. Medications or a device called a cardioverter may be used by doctors to help their heart go back to a normal cardiac rhythm.
Is atrial fibrillation serious?
Atrial fibrillation is usually not life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable and requires treatment. While this condition isn’t fatal in itself, it can lead to potentially life-threatening complications if not properly taken care of. The most common complications of atrial fibrillation are heart failure and stroke, which can be fatal if not managed quickly and effectively.
What can trigger atrial fibrillation?
Certain situations can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation, which are:
- Taking excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Being overweight.
- Take lots of caffeine, like tea, energy drinks or coffee.
- Consuming illegal drugs, particularly amphetamines or cocaine.
All this can trigger your chances of atrial fibrillation.
What should you not do if you have atrial fibrillation?
- Below are the things one should minimize the intake or abstain from entirely:
- Reduce or avoid salty foods such as cold cuts, salad dressings, pizza, and soups to reduce your risk.
- Reduce the intake of alcohol for it may increase atrial fibrillation episodes especially if you have existing cardiovascular diseases or diabetes.
- Reduce or avoid the intake of sugar: Eating many sugary foods constantly may cause insulin resistance to develop, which will increase your chances of developing diabetes.
- Grapefruit: consuming grapefruit may not be a good idea if you have atrial fibrillation and are on medications to treat it.
Can you live a normal life with atrial fibrillation?
With proper treatment, people having atrial fibrillation can live a normal and active life.
Although atrial fibrillation is a long-term condition, if managed correctly, you can continue to live a long and active life. There are some steps that you can take to help you manage your condition, relieve any worries you may have, and lower your risk of stroke. They include:
- Learn about your condition to know more about its symptoms, causes, and treatments.
- Going close and hearing from others who are living with atrial fibrillation.
- Receiving aftercare and instructions from your healthcare team.
Can atrial fibrillation damage your heart?
Atrial fibrillation can lead to permanent heart damage, although that’s fairly uncommon. The situation in which atrial fibrillation can cause permanent heart damage is when a patient develops atrial fibrillation and the heart rate becomes very rapid for a very long period of time.
What are the chances of dying from atrial fibrillation?
Most people with atrial fibrillation do not die from the condition, but from accompanying complications such as heart failure, myocardial infarction, stroke, chronic kidney disease, dementia, or cancer. The complex causal interactions between atrial fibrillation and its co-morbidities often lead to interdependence in disease development.
Atrial fibrillation is not always listed on a death certificate as an associated cause of death rather than the underlying cause of death, so the most complete picture of the mortality burden of atrial fibrillation is obtained by examining deaths in which atrial fibrillation is listed as either an underlying or an associated cause of death.