1. Medications: This is the usual way of treating atrial fibrillation. In many people medication are highly effective. However, medications do not cure the condition. They simply make episodes less frequent and less severe. In some people however, the medications are less effective. Medication may also produce side effects.
2. DC Shock or Electrical Cardioversion: When the heart is in fibrillation it can be reverted to the normal rhythm with a “shock on the chest”. You receive a short general anaesthetic and the shock reverts the rhythm to normal in the majority of cases. With this approach, the possibility of the fibrillation returning remains present. Therefore, most patients will also require a medicine to try to prevent the fibrillation coming back.
3. Blood Thinning Medications: Because of the risk that atrial fibrillation may cause blood clots in the heart most patients with this heart rhythm disturbance will require blood-thinning medication to prevent blood clots forming. At your doctors discretion this may either be with Aspirin or Warfarin or one of the newer agents (NOACS)
4. Atrial Fibrillation Ablation: Over now more than a decade, a procedure has been developed for cure of atrial fibrillation. This procedure termed RADIOFREQUENCY or CATHETER ABLATION has been available for other types of heart rhythm disturbances for more than 25 years. Radiofrequency is a type of energy that causes a small burn (ablation) at the tip of the catheter thereby turning the abnormal tissue that was causing the short-circuit into a small scar. Atrial Fibrillation Ablation Procedure using Advanced 3D Mapping with smart touch technology is being performed at Apollo Hospitals, Chennai over a decade of experience in. We will discuss with you if Atrial Fibrillation Ablation is an option for you.
5. Pacemaker and AV Node Ablation: For some patients with atrial fibrillation when symptoms are severe and medications have been unsuccessful, a permanent pacemaker may be implanted. By itself, the pacemaker will not improve the way you feel. However, following this a special procedure called AV node ablation (sometimes also called His bundle ablation) can be performed. This procedure is a simple procedure which effectively “knocks out” the AV node. This will prevent any of the electrical short-circuits in the atria from reaching the ventricles. The pacemaker will now have complete control of your heart rhythm. The heart rhythm will be regular and will no longer race rapidly. The procedure is not a cure but does effectively control the symptoms.
At the present time, only very few patients with atrial fibrillation can be cured with a procedure termed radiofrequency ablation. Unfortunately, for the majority of patients with atrial fibrillation this is not possible at the present time. If you have a type of atrial fibrillation that may be suitable for this procedure, it will be discussed with you.
Atrial fibrillation is a very common condition and is the focus of much research. It is possible that in the future, our ability to cure this condition will improve.
-Senior Consultant Cardiologist & Electrophysiologist
-Chief, Cardiac Pacing and Arrhythmia Services
-Department of Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology
-Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, Chennai.