Atrial fibrillation and its treatment

Life takes a 360° tumultuous turn when you’re diagnosed with heart disease. One of the prevalent heart diseases is called Atrial fibrillation, or AF or AFib is a condition in which the heartbeat is uneven. The top part of your heart does not coordinate with the bottom ventricle part of your heart which leads to irregular pumping, which is also called Arrhythmia.

Many factors are leading up to this condition; it’s predominantly seen amongst older people. According to statistics, it’s estimated that around 12 million would have AFib by 2030; that’s just in the United States.

Let’s discuss in detail the risk factors, different types, medications, and treatment for Atrial fibrillation.

Factors causing AFib

If you are experiencing chest pain or pressure in your chest, heart palpitations, chances are you might be having AFib. The following are the factors that are responsible for AFib :

  • Drinking too much alcohol & drugs
  • Overweight, high cholesterol(LDL) & unhealthy lifestyle.
  • Sleep apnea & over-active thyroid gland
  • Pulmonary embolism & COPD
  • Past heart surgeries & coronary heart disease

Types of AFib & its treatment

AFib is categorized based upon how long each episode lasts. Depending on the episodes, prior treatment is given. The main four types include:

Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation

This type of AFib episode lasts less than a week. Treatment usually involves medication.  It’s often referred to as holiday heart syndrome.

Persistent Atrial Fibrillation

This type of AFib episode mimics Paroxysmal AFib in the short term, but it lasts longer than a week. Treatment usually involves medication or, in some cases, a mild electric shock called Electrical cardioversion to reset your heart’s rhythm.

Permanent Atrial Fibrillation (Chronic)

This type of AFib episode needs long-term medication to normalize your heart rate since it’s permanent. The odds of having a stroke, in this case, are high.

Long-standing persistent Atrial Fibrillation

This type of AFib episode lasts more than a year, or it never goes away because they form a tissue on the surface of the heart which does not let the electric signals pass through, resulting in poor blood flow. This can only be treated through surgical procedures like Ablation.


The diagnosis for AFib usually involves :

  • Monitoring the electrical activity of your heart by Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Echocardiogram – sound wave video of your heart
  • Blood tests, MRI’s, X rays & CT scans
  • Stress exercise tests to monitor your heartbeat during physical activity

Treatments & Medication

Once the doctors run their diagnosis and learn the type of AFib and the severity of your condition, the treatments for Atrial Fibrillation include prescribing medication, surgery, or opt for a pacemaker to bring your heartbeat back to a normal rhythm.

The surgical procedures include Open heart surgery, Ablation, and a Pacemaker.

The medications usually involve drugs that help prevent blood clots, slowing your heart rate and thinning your blood.


Some AFib goes away on their own. But for others, it poses severe and long-term problems. According to the type of Atrial Fibrillation prior treatments are provided. All you need to do to prevent AFib is have a healthy lifestyle; Limit smoking & drinking, have a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. So you always stay healthy and fit. Take a look at Dr. Syed Ahsan explaining about AFib its risk factors and treatments :

Author: Dr Syed Ahsan, Cardiologist at Barts Heart Centre, part of Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Leave a Response