There are three main purposes of atrial fibrillation treatment:
- To reduce the symptoms of the condition.
- To reduce the risk of blood clot complication.
- To reduce risk of developing “Heart Failure”
The primary goal of treating atrial fibrillation is not necessarily to make the heart beat normally – what we call “Sinus Rhythm”. It will probably be surprising to many, but not everyone has affected quality of life and reduced physical capacity due to atrial fibrillation. The absolute most important thing in the treatment of atrial fibrillation is to protect against complications in the form of blood clots or the development of heart failure.
Together with your doctor, you can gain an understanding of your risk of developing a blood clot as a complication of your atrial fibrillation. If your risk of blood clots is increased, it will most often be relevant to recommend so-called blood-thinning medication. This is a type of medicine that reduces the blood’s ability to clot, thus reducing the risk of a dangerous blood clot in the brain.
What about other medications and ablation treatment?
Many people with atrial fibrillation will need medication that slows their heart rate. This can both lead to an improved quality of life and increased physical activity, but it can also prevent atrial fibrillation from weakening the heart’s pumping power.
Some people will be given medication to keep their heart rate in a normal rhythm. However some will be recommended to undergo an “ablation treatment”, which by surgery can remove the areas of the heart that provoke atrial fibrillation.
Other conditions can also contribute to atrial fibrillation
It is important to check if there are other conditions that are contributing to your atrial fibrillation. It may be high blood pressure or high metabolism. Of course, it is important to address any provocative factors. It may also be appropriate to lose weight if you are significantly overweight. Some individuals may need to reduce their alcohol consumption.
Ultrasound scans of the heart
To find out if the heart is otherwise faulty, it will often be necessary to refer you to an examination by a cardiologist, where an ultrasound scan of your heart is performed – this is called an “echocardiography”. Using this technique, the cardiologist can assess whether there is something wrong with the heart valves or whether pumping force has been affected.
Individual plan and treatment of Atrial Fibrillation
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment of atrial fibrillation. This means that it is important to make a thorough and individual assessment so that your physician- together with you – can make the best possible plan so that you can live your best life, despite your atrial fibrillation. It is also important that you – together with your doctor – have a plan for follow-up. You do not have the same heart in 10 years that you have today. And your risk of blood clot complications will also change over time.