But you may not have to!
Not unlike an electrician who repairs wiring in your home, a doctor has options when it comes to treating the electrical rhythm of your heart.
According to Kent Morris, M.D., cardiac electrophysiologist with Norton Heart Specialists, treatment options for atrial ﬁbrillation (A-ﬁb) are not one-size-ﬁts-all. If one treatment doesn’t work, a combination of treatments might.
“Risk factor modiﬁcation is critical for successful treatment of A-ﬁb,” Dr. Morris said. “Losing weight, treating sleep apnea and controlling high blood pressure and diabetes can signiﬁcantly reduce your symptoms.”
Medications often are the initial treatment. If the medication isn’t effective or if side effects are impacting quality of life, there are other options.
Catheter ablation is one of those options. Ablation is performed using a catheter inserted into a
blood vessel in the groin and guided to the heart. The electrophysiologist then carefully destroys malfunctioning tissue using radiofrequency (ablation), scarring the problematic areas so they can no longer transmit abnormal signals.
Hybrid catheter/surgical ablation is another option. During this procedure, the heart surgeon ablates areas along the outside of the heart, and the electrophysiologist ablates areas inside the heart. This approach can be more effective for patients with more persistent A-ﬁb.
Often, a combination of medical therapy and ablation can be used to help improve A-ﬁb symptoms.
“By working together with patients, we can ﬁnd a solution to living with A-ﬁb,” Dr. Morris said.