A-fib Treatments Help You Get Back Into the Rhythm of Life
Music icon Barry Manilow is just one of millions of Americans living with atrial fibrillation, a serious heart rhythm disorder that causes the heart to race with a rhythm that can reach between 300 to 400 beats per minute. According to the American Heart Association, 2.7 million Americans have A-fib.
Some people with A-fib exhibit no symptoms and may not know they have it. Others have palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness and anxiety. With A-fib, the heart’s upper chambers (atria) are unable to pump blood effectively. When this occurs, blood may pool and form clots resulting in an increased risk of stroke.
A-fib is growing in prevalence and is more common in people who have:
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea syndrome
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart failure
- Rheumatic heart disease
- Structural heart defects, such as leaky mitral valves
- Sick sinus syndrome – a collection of heart rhythm disorders that include slow heart rates, fast heart rates and alternating slow and fast heart rhythms
“Treatment of atrial fibrillation is complicated and needs to be individualized,” says David Haines, M.D., director of Beaumont’s Heart Rhythm Center. “All of the treatments for this lifetime condition carry some risk. There is no risk-free path.”
That’s why it’s important that people with A-fib explore all their treatment options by going to a center that specializes in the condition, such as Beaumont’s Atrial Fibrillation Clinics located in Royal Oak or Sterling Heights.
A-fib treatments include:
- Medications that control heart rhythm or rate, blood thinners and clot prevention drugs. A new type of blood thinning medication can be given in a fixed dose and doesn’t require frequent blood testing or diet restrictions, like older blood thinning drugs.
- Catheter ablation to restore a normal heart rhythm, if medicines don’t work. For this procedure, a wire is inserted through a vein in the leg or arm and threaded to the heart. Radiofrequency energy is sent through the wire to destroy abnormal tissue that may be disrupting the normal flow of electrical signals.
- Laser balloon ablation – a new form of treatment being tested at Beaumont through a clinical trial led by Dr. Haines. Beaumont is the only center in Michigan offering laser balloon ablation for A-fib.
- Maze surgery – where a surgeon makes small cuts or burns in the atria to block disorganized electrical signals. Physicians at Beaumont, Troy performed Michigan’s first robotic maze procedure earlier this year – a new, minimally invasive alternative to open-heart maze surgery.
“Any A-fib treatment available in the world is offered at Beaumont,” says Dr. Haines.
|Dr. David Haines during a procedure in the Electrophysiology Lab|