What to Do if Your AFib Medications Are Bringing You Down
October 27, 2021
When atrial fibrillation / Afib or other arrythmias are first diagnosed, patients are often nervous about the potential treatment options. It is helpful to know that as electrophysiologists, we are always looking for the least invasive, easiest way to normalize the heart rhythm. What we do know is that many lifestyle choices including diet, smoking and substance use, can affect the heart’s rhythm. Rectifying these lifestyle issues can often improve or eliminate arrhythmia issues. However, there are times where this does not work, and we must try antiarrhythmic or anticoagulant medication to reduce symptoms and help prevent stroke. These medications work in about 50% of patients who experience significant relief and can continue with their normal lives. However, for the other 50%, for whom medications cause unacceptable side effects or simply do not help, life can be somewhat harder.
Unfortunately, many of these patients do not know that there are curative procedures available in the form of cardiac catheter ablation and cardiac cryoablation that can pick up where the medicines left off and even offer a very good chance of curing the arrhythmia entirely. Instead, many patients live with the side effects of their medication and/or the consequences of their arrhythmia for months or even years.
Who is a candidate for a procedural intervention?
While on the surface it may seem like procedural interventions for Afib or any other arrhythmia is simply for the comfort of the patient, this is not exactly true. Yes, eliminating an arrhythmia can make a patient’s life much more comfortable. However, we are far more concerned by the potential medical effects of an untreated or undertreated arrhythmia. For example, atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke by up to five times, versus patients who do not have an arrhythmia. Therefore, and ablation may be important from a stroke prevention standpoint.
Patients may also benefit from a second procedure known as left atrial appendage (LAA) closure. We use a device known as The Watchman to seal off the left atrial appendage of the heart and, with it, seal in the pooling blood that can potentially lead to a stroke in the future.
Understanding the best options for stroke prevention and arrhythmia improvement starts with a consultation with Dr. Tordini at one of our three offices in the Tampa area. We look forward to sitting down with you and understanding your heart rhythm concerns so that we can offer an appropriate solution.
The bottom line, however, is that you do not need to suffer from these side effects of medication any longer. Speak to Dr. Tordini about how you can explore other treatment options, including curative procedures for your arrhythmia.
Dr. Tordini is a part of Florida Medical Clinic in Tampa