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I Have AFib: What’s The Best Procedure to Correct It?

Atrial FibrillationQ: I have AFib: What’s the best procedure to correct it?

A: Our hearts all have natural pacemakers. This natural pacemaker is like the conductor of a symphony who stands in the middle and everyone listens and reacts to him.

When you have atrial fibrillation, or AFib, there’s chaos in the symphony. Everyone’s playing at the same time and it’s an uncoordinated mess.

The first strategy for AFib is to treat it with medicine. The goal is called rate control and this involves medicines like beta blockers or calcium channel blockers. They slow everything down — making everyone in the orchestra calm down so that the heart rate slows down.

If a patient has tried rate control and they still experience symptoms, they may try rhythm control. This is where you reset the symphony so the conductor can take control again. You also can do that with medicines or an electric shock.

If that doesn’t work, then you can try an ablation, where you remove certain foci in the heart that are responsible for the fibrillation.

— Preventive cardiologist Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH