Treatment Options for Atrial Fibrillation

Medication, or even simple lifestyle changes, can often prevent or reduce the symptoms of atrial fibrillation. They may also reduce the risks of other health problems resulting from atrial fibrillation. If your doctor suspects atrial fibrillation and wants to prevent any risk for your health, heart monitoring may help your doctor to determine the optimal treatment for you.

Lifestyle Changes

Simple lifestyle changes can sometimes help prevent recurrent spells of atrial fibrillation:

Your doctor may advise you to:

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can over-stimulate the heart and trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation
  • Eat heart-healthy foods
  • Reduce your salt intake, which can help lower blood pressure
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Quit smoking.


If you continue to experience atrial fibrillation after making some simple lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe specific medications or therapeutic procedures.

There are two main treatments for people with atrial fibrillation:

  • Anti-arrhythmic treatments, which are drugs or procedures (i.e. ablation) aimed at curing and/or controlling the arrhythmia
  • Antithrombotic treatments, which are drugs given to make the blood thin enough to prevent clots and strokes occurring.

Your doctor may try to record your heart rhythm using an ECG Holter monitor, which is a portable monitor that records the heart rhythms, that you carry around for a few days. But this kind of monitor is often not sufficient as your episodes of atrial fibrillation may be too infrequent and unpredictable for detection with conventional monitoring techniques. A better solution may be an insertable cardiac monitor (ICM) to enable your doctor to detect and measure your episodes of atrial fibrillation. Your doctor can then properly evaluate the risk associated with your atrial fibrillation and decide on the best treatment for you.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2010

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