Device Therapy for AFib
Device therapy is another treatment option for patients suffering from AFib. A pacemaker is a device that sends small electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate. Pacemakers are implanted in people with AFib who have a slow heart rate. The pacemaker has a pulse generator (that houses the battery and a tiny computer) and leads (wires) that send impulses from the pulse generator to the heart muscle, as well as sense the heart’s electrical activity. Newer pacemakers have many sophisticated features, designed to help with the management of arrhythmias and to optimize heart rate-related function as much as possible.
Tampa General Hospital offers the WATCHMAN™, a permanent implant proven to reduce stroke risk in AFib patients. The WATCHMAN™ is a minimally invasive, one-time procedure that can replace the need for long-term blood thinners.
Medical Management via Drug Therapy for AFib
Many options are available to treat atrial fibrillation, including lifestyle changes, medications, catheter-based procedures and surgery. The type of treatment recommended for you is based on your heart rhythm and symptoms. Medications are an important part of treatment and may include:
- Anticoagulants (blood thinners) to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. Regular blood tests are required when taking these medications to monitor how well they are working.
- Rate-control medications to help slow the heart rate during AFib. These medications do not control the heart rhythm, but do prevent the ventricles from beating too rapidly.
- Rhythm-control medications to help return the heart rhythm to normal or maintain normal rhythm. A patient may have to stay in the hospital when first taking these medications so the heart rhythm and response to medication can be carefully monitored. These medications are effective 30 to 60 percent of the time, but may lose their effectiveness over time.
When medications are not successful in treating AFib, or when a patient cannot tolerate medications, a procedure, device therapy or surgical treatment may be necessary to treat the abnormal heart rhythm.