What is Afib and how do you treat it?


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What is Afib and how do you treat it?

Afib is the abbreviation for atrial fibrillation. It is a common type of cardiac arrhythmia which can make the heart beat irregularly and sometimes very quickly. Afib is caused by the lack of coordination of the electrical signals in your heartbeat. You may have heard of it as “a wandering impulse”.

 

Symptoms of afib include lightheadedness or lightheadedness, chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (especially when lying down), rapid heartbeat (usually more than 100 beats per minute), and fatigue. . If you experience symptoms that last for more than a few minutes, it’s important to see a doctor immediately so they can diagnose and treat any potential underlying condition before it gets worse.

Common treatment options for fib include medications, cardioversions, and ablation.

Medications

The drugs have been shown to be effective in converting people from fib to a normal heart rate. This is considered the least invasive option, with a low risk of complications, and will usually be the first thing a doctor will try. Different drugs will try to prevent different things. Some medicines will thin your blood to prevent blood clots from forming which could lead to major complications such as stroke.

Other drugs will try to slow your heart rate down, making it less likely that electrical signals are uncoordinated. While other drugs will still try to affect electrical signals directly.

While medications are the least invasive way to treat Afib, they are not without their drawbacks. Common side effects of afib medications include fatigue, dizziness, and nausea, and blood thinners will make it easier for you to bruise and bleed.

The drugs can also interact with other drugs. Therefore, before you start taking fib medicines, it is important that your doctor review all of the medicines you are currently taking to make sure that there will be no negative interactions and that they work together. in order to effectively treat fib.

When you are taking medicines to treat Afib, your doctor will usually come to the office regularly for tests to make sure your heart rate remains normal.

Cardioversion

If the drug does not work, or if it becomes ineffective in keeping fib under control, cardioversion may be considered. Cardioversion is similar to an electric shock given during resuscitation. The goal of this treatment option is to return the heart to a normal rate.

In some cases, cardioversion will require sedation or pain relievers, but in general, this is considered an outpatient procedure and does not usually result in hospitalization.

The cardioversion procedure involves the use of catheters (thin tubes) inserted into a vein or artery, usually in the groin. Medicines will then be used to suppress your heartbeat and cardiac arrest is induced by delivering electric shocks through electrodes on your chest.

Each patient’s experience with cardioversion may vary due to differences in body size, age, and other physical factors. There are certain risks of cardioversion such as perforation of the heart wall or damage to other internal organs due to electric shock.

Cardioversion also carries a risk of dislodging existing blood clots that could lead to stroke, pulmonary embolism, or heart failure. This is one of the main reasons why doctors prefer to try drugs first before resorting to cardioversion.

Ablation

Usually reserved for patients who haven’t responded well enough to medications or cardioversion, ablation is the process of burning off the extra electrical signals that cause fib in your heart. This option may be considered if you experience very frequent episodes of Afib and / or they last longer than 48 hours.

There are two types of ablation procedures; cryoablation and RF catheter ablation, both of which work by using mapping to determine where the extra signals in your heart are coming from before removing them.

Cryoablation uses extremely cold temperatures to freeze specific areas of tissue in your heart while RF catheter ablation uses radio frequency waves to burn the tissue.

Cryoablation

Cryoablation is usually done without an emergency, but can be done in the emergency room if necessary. As with cardioversion, you will usually be sedated to make sure you are comfortable during this procedure. You’ll also need an IV line for medications and fluids throughout the process, as well as access to the major arteries in your heart so they can be used to guide catheter locations.

The doctor will use imaging technology to help visualize your heart and locate the place in the atrium (upper chambers) of your heart where the abnormal electrical signals are coming from so that they can burn those areas with extremely high temperatures. cold, effectively eliminating them as a problem.

RF catheter ablation (radiofrequency ablation)

This procedure is very similar to the cryoablation procedure, but instead of freezing tissues in extremely cold temperatures, doctors use radio frequency energy to burn them.

This is also done using catheters using imaging technology to guide them into place and once they reach your heart’s atria, electrical signals are sent in order to find out where the abnormal pulses are coming from before. to burn these areas.

The entire process for both procedures can take anywhere from one to three hours, and you will likely be released within 24 to 48 hours depending on your condition.

The ablation carries some risks in itself, such as damage to the heart, perforation or burning of blood vessels, which could lead to bleeding in the brain, stroke, or other serious conditions.

The type of treatment you will need will vary from person to person, and your doctor can help you determine the best option for you. What is right for one person may not work for another.

Any questions or concerns about your condition should be raised with your doctor during follow-up appointments, which usually take place every one to six months after the procedure is completed.




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