Treatment and Prevention of Atrial Fibrillation
The main dangers associated with this condition are:
- The formation of blood clots causing development of ischemic stroke;
- Cardiac standstill;
- Progression of the heart failure which occurs in patients with defects of the heart and ventricles.
In some cases, atrial fibrillation may transform into ventricular fibrillation, which increases the risk of death as a result of the cardiac arrest.
The preventive measures of this condition involve:
Once the atrial fibrillation paroxysmal attack is over, it is necessary to:
- Avoid excess physical activities;
- Avoid alcohol consumption;
- Stick to a diet rich in potassium and magnesium;
- Take the medicines administered by the cardiologist.
Moreover, for those patients with a history of cardiovascular diseases, the medicinal prophylaxis of atrial fibrillation is of significant importance. In time, it’s getting more difficult to treat this disorder and heart may lose its ability to work properly on its own. Therefore, it’s essential to seek medical advice in the early stages, to undergo all required tests and start the treatment.
The treatment of patients with various forms of atrial fibrillation provides for the solution of 4 main objectives:
- Restoration of the sinus rhythm – this stage is performed using one of the following ways:
- Pharmacologic or chemical cardioversion – the use of antiarrhythmic drugs to restore the rhythm;
- Electrical cardioversion – it is performed with the help of defibrillator which sends a strong electric impulse to coordinate the work of muscle fibers.
- Maintenance of the sinus rhythm that means prevention of the recurrent paroxysms of atrial fibrillation. The following step involves:
- Drug treatment with the use of various antiarrhythmic agents;
- Catheter ablation is used if antiarrhythmic drugs have proved to be ineffective. The essence of this method consists in the neutralization of those cardiac muscle cells that provoke atrial fibrillation;
- Artificial cardiac pacemaker implantation can also be used if medicines are not effective.
- Heart rate control. To achieve the required result they use:
- The course of treatment involving drugs that control the heart rate and keep it at the level of 60 beats per minute (beta-blockers, digitalis preparation, calcium channel blockers and certain antiarrhythmic);
- If medicines have turned out to be ineffective, then ablation or pacemaker implantation are administered.
- Prevention of the blood clots formation that is protection of a patient from strokes. In this case pharmacological treatment with anticoagulants, the agents that reduce (but do not eliminate) the risk of thrombosis and strokes, is indicated.
The therapy of the disease that provokes rhythm disturbance – heart failure, hypertension, thyroid gland malfunction and others – is an integral part of the therapy. In cases of atrial fibrillation, pharmaceutical preparations should only be administered by a cardiologist, because preparations may have serious contraindications.