6 Questions to Ask When Treating Atrial Fibrillation

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Once you are diagnosed with AFib, it's important to speak with your doctor about your symptoms and treatment plan, if necessary. Here are six questions and answers to help get you started.


Is everyone that has AFib at risk for stroke?

The short answer is no. However, other factors like age (over 65), high blood pressure, diabetes, and being female may increase your risk.


Does everyone with AFib have symptoms?

There are some patients who have had AFib for years, knowingly and unknowingly, who haven't experienced any symptoms.


My heart is healthy, but I have AFib. What's my risk?

Your risk for stroke may be lower compared to a person with a diseased heart. If a person with a diseased heart has AFib, the source of errant electrical signals may be different from that of a person with a structurally healthy heart. These people may be at a higher risk for forming blood clots and having strokes, and, therefore, may want to be on anticoagulant medications.


What's the best option for an older AFib patient with no symptoms?

If the person is older than 65 and isn't experiencing any symptoms, a regimen of anticoagulant medication might be the only necessary treatment plan, but always refer to your doctor.


What is the "pill-in-the-pocket" treatment?

The "pill-in-the-pocket" approach is a strategy many doctors use for younger patients with infrequent AFib to convert the heart back to normal sinus rhythm. Whenever a person experiences an AFib episode, they simply take a pill from their pocket and swallow it. Within an hour or so, the episode should be over.


What's the best option for someone with persistent AFib?

In a case where an individual has long-standing AFib, it becomes more difficult to restore the sinus rhythm. These patients are usually older and should be on anticoagulant medications. If the symptoms are bothersome, the patient may be given medications to control the heart rate, or a pacemaker could be implanted along with an atrioventricular ablation.