Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

  • Medical Author:
    Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI

    Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Quick GuideAtrial Fibrillation: Heart Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment for AFib

Atrial Fibrillation: Heart Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment for AFib

What is the treatment for atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

The treatment of atrial fibrillation is multi-faceted and involves:

  1. reversing the factors that cause atrial fibrillation;
  2. slowing the heart rate with medications;
  3. preventing strokes;
  4. converting atrial fibrillation to a normal heart rhythm with medications or electrical shock;
  5. preventing the recurrence of atrial fibrillation with medications; and
  6. using procedures (for example, pacemakers, defibrillators, surgery) to prevent episodes of AFib.

Reversing the risk factors (drugs or other diseases or conditions) that cause AFib

An important first step in the treatment of AFib is to uncover and correct conditions (such as hyperthyroidism or use of stimulant drugs) that can cause AFib. These steps include:

  • stopping the use of stimulant drugs and excessive alcohol intake;
  • controlling high blood pressure;
  • correcting hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) and low blood oxygen levels; and
  • controlling heart failure and treating the diseases of the heart and the lungs that can cause atrial fibrillation. Continue Reading
Reviewed on 5/27/2015
References
Medically reviewed by: Robert J. Bryg, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Cardiovascular Disease.

REFERENCES:

UpToDate. Patient information: Atrial fibrillation (Beyond the Basics).

Wann, Samuel L., et al. "2011 ACCF/AHA/HRS focused update on the management of patients with atrial fibrillation (Updating the 2006 Guideline): a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines." Journal of the American College of Cardiology 57.2 (2011): 223-242.

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