There are many options available to treat arrhythmias, from prescribing medication to undergoing a procedure. These options include:
Antiarrhythmics: a classification of medications that are prescribed to treat cardiac arrhythmias. Antiarrhythmics work in a variety of different ways. They can lower the risk of developing arrhythmias, terminate arrhythmias, lessen the symptoms associated with arrhythmias, or prevent arrhythmias from occurring. Some antiarrhythmics were developed only for this purpose (e.g., amiodarone, sotalol or flecainide). Other cardiac medications work well as antiarrhythmics (e.g., beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers) but are also useful in the treatment of other heart conditions such as angina or high blood pressure.
Coumadin®: prescribed for most patients in atrial fibrillation because they have an increased risk of stroke. The risk is increased because with atrial fibrillation, the heart's atria are not squeezing effectively. Consequently, blood tends to "pool" in the atria, which can result in the formation of blood clots. Clots that form in the atria can break loose, travel through the arteries to the brain, resulting in a stroke. Warfarin (Coumadin®) prevents the formation of clots and requires frequent patient follow-up for dose adjustments to prevent hemorrhage complications.
For more heart rhythm information:
For more information regarding the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, please call 312-NM-HEART (664-3278) or request a first time appointment online.