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Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

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AFib Treatment - An Overview

Atrial Fibrillation, or AFib, is a cardiac issue where your heart beats irregularly or abnormally fast without any order. This condition is triggered by electrical short circuits that occur in both the atria, although it is more pronounced in the left atrium. During AFib, the atria contract abnormally due to the electrical signals originating outside the Sinoatrial Node. These abnormal contractions cause the atria to fibrillate or quiver. The anomalous signals then move to the ventricles, causing them to contract rapidly and irregularly, thus resulting in an unorganised contraction of the ventricles and atria. Because of such disturbances, the blood pumped out to the body from the heart will vary with every heartbeat. Eventually, the ventricles lose their ability to pump blood to the rest of the body. AFib may start suddenly and then stop on its own, or it may become a long-lasting problem.

Dr. Karthigesan Clinic in Chennai offers several atrial fibrillation treatment options. Dr. Karthigesan is among the select few in the country who have been providing international-standard treatment for atrial fibrillation for over a decade. He operates an exclusive atrial fibrillation clinic dedicated to addressing the prevalent issue of arrhythmia, offering services to a wide range of patients seeking treatment for common arrhythmia disorders.

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  • Palpitations
  • Fluttering sensation over the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of consciousness [syncope]
  • Increased difficulty for the heart to normally pump blood.
  • High risk of blood clot formation, which may lead to stroke.
  • Heart failure and other cardiac issues.
  • Previous heart attack
  • Existing heart diseases
  • Heart valve problems
  • Prior heart surgery
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Obstructive Sleep apnea
  • Thyroid imbalance
  • Hypertension
  • Excessive caffeine intake
  • Smoking and alcohol intake
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Vigorous exercising
The image illustrates the Atrial Fibrillation.

Types of Atrial Fibrillation

Paroxysmal AFib
Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) generally resolves itself within a week, often without requiring any treatment. The symptoms of AFib, while intermittent, typically persist from a few minutes to several hours. In certain instances, these symptoms may extend up to a week, and the episodes may recur periodically. Even though it is intermittent in nature, these rhythm disturbances can cause brain stroke.
Persistent AFib
Persistent Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), extends beyond a week and necessitates treatment. In this form of AFib, the heart rhythm fails to self-regulate back to its normal state. For individuals exhibiting AFib symptoms, therapeutic interventions such as cardioversion or medication may be administered to reinstate and sustain a regular heart rhythm.
Long-standing persistent AFib
Long-standing Persistent Atrial Fibrillation (AFib), which extends over a year, often poses a significant treatment challenge. Medications and therapeutic interventions become essential in this scenario, not only to regulate the heart rate but also to prevent potential blood clot formation.
Permanent AFib
Permanent Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is a condition that persists for an extended period, often spanning many years. In this particular form of AFib, the irregular heart rhythm cannot be restored, even with the application of various treatment modalities.

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment Options

Blood Thinning Medications

Due to the elevated risk of blood clots resulting from atrial fibrillation, a majority of patients with this cardiac rhythm disorder are typically prescribed blood-thinning medications. The primary purpose of these drugs is to inhibit the formation of blood clots, thereby significantly reducing the possibility of stroke.

Antiarrhythmic Medications

This is the conventional approach to managing atrial fibrillation. Nevertheless, it's important to note that medications’ effectiveness is only 40-50%. Medications can help to moderate the frequency and intensity of atrial fibrillation. In certain individuals, the efficacy of these medications may be less pronounced. Furthermore, medication may also cause side effects.

Cryoballoon Ablation

In this procedure, the extra muscle causing the short circuit is ablated through cryo energy delivered through a balloon inserted from your groin area all the way to the heart.

Atrial Fibrillation Ablation

This procedure uses Advanced 3D mapping guided ablation with smart touch technology. Dr. Karthigesan has performed this procedure for numerous patients in Apollo Hospitals, Chennai.

DC Shock or Electrical Cardioversion

This procedure reverts the fibrillating heart to its normal rhythm when a shock is administered to the chest.

Pacemaker & AV Node Ablation

The pacemaker implantation and AV node ablation are ideal for aged patients with multiple comorbidities, especially if their symptoms are severe and medication has not been effective.
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Atrial Fibrillation Treatment : Answers to Your Queries

You are at risk if you are:

  • Aged 65 and above
  • Suffering from existing cardiac diseases
  • Suffering from hypertension and thyroid issues
  • Addicted to alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Experiencing sleep apnea
  • Suffering from specific lung diseases

There is no definitive way to prevent AFib. However, you can mitigate the risks by:

  • Keeping diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea under control
  • Staying fit and maintaining an ideal body weight
  • Avoiding smoking, alcohol intake and drug abuse

Yes, hereditary AFib is possible, although it is not common. Persons with hereditary AFib will often experience symptoms at a very young age. Their family history of AFib will also be very strong.

Dr Karthigesan may suggest blood thinners to prevent the formation of blood clots inside the heart, which may lead to a stroke. You might need to continue taking the blood thinner for the rest of your life, or there's a possibility that you could discontinue it following an interventional procedure. Based on your risk profile, Dr. Karthigesan will decide whether you need to take the blood thinners permanently or not.

You should seek immediate medical help if you experience these symptoms:

  • Episodic/persistent palpitations
  • Severe chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe bleeding
  • Worsening symptoms
  • New or mild symptoms

The latest interventional treatment option introduced in India is cryoballoon ablation. Dr.Karthigesan is well-trained and experienced in the cryoballoon ablation procedure. Cryoballoon ablation has a potential success rate of 85%.

Another new treatment method is the 3D mapping guided RF ablation with smart touch technology. It also has a success rate of 80- 85%. Dr Karthigesan is well-trained in handling this procedure as well. He will decide the right procedure suitable for you based on your health condition.

Both these treatment options have a higher success rate than the conventional approach of taking antiarrhythmic medications, which has a success rate of only 40-50%.

Interventional treatments are known for their high effectiveness and safety. They boast a success rate of 80-85%, a substantial improvement over the 40-50% success rate associated with conventional medication approaches. Conventional medications will have to be taken lifelong and can have adverse side effects as well.

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