For an Appointment call: 201. 996. 2997

How is Atrial Fibrillation Treated?

The goal for treating Atrial fibrillation is to minimize symptoms and to prevent dangerous consequences. The choice of treatment depends on the patient's age, cause of atrial fibrillation and symptoms.



  • Our initial approach to the patient with symptomatic Atrial Fibrillation is to use medication to return the heart rhythm to normal and maintain the normal rhythm. Common medications used include beta-blockers such as Metoprolol and Toprol, Flecainide (Tambocor), Propafenone (Rhythmol), Sotalol (Betapace), Dofetelide (Tikosyn), Dronedarone (Multaq) and Amiodarone (Cordarone).

  • In patients with atrial fibrillation, oral blood thinners such as warfarin, dabigatran, or aspirin are used to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. The choice of warfarin, vs. dabigatran vs. aspirin is determined by many factors including the patient's age, history of hypertension, history of congestive heart failure, history of diabetes, and history of coronary disease. If warfarin is selected, regular blood tests are required to monitor the level of the drug. For dabigatran, monitoring of the drug level is not required.


Electrical Cardioversion

When medications are not successful in converting atrial fibrillation to sinus rhythm, electrical cardioversion may be required. A short acting anesthetic is given followed by a synchronized electrical shock to the heart to convert atrial fibrillation to normal rhythm. Cardioversion is usually successful in converting the heart rhythm to normal but recurrence of atrial fibrillation is common.


Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation with Pulmonary Vein Isolation

In patients with paroxysmal and persistent atrial fibrillation studies have shown that the cause of atrial fibrillation originates from the four pulmonary veins in the left atrium. In the EP laboratory specialized catheters are passed from the veins in the leg into the left atrium utilizing intracardiac ultrasound to visualize the left atrium. Ablation lesions are then created around the four pulmonary veins utilizing radiofrequency energy to prevent the electrical stimuli in the pulmonary veins from causing atrial fibrillation.


Surgical Therapies to Cure Atrial Fibrillation

In patients with either persistent or chronic atrial fibrillation surgical ablation may be performed on an arrested or beating heart, in an open-heart procedure, or in a minimally invasive closed-chest procedure. During an open-heart procedure, surgical ablation can be performed as a stand alone procedure or concomitantly with mitral valve replacement/repair or other specified procedures. During a minimally invasive surgical ablation, the surgeon uses special minimally invasive instruments, which are inserted through 3 small holes on either side of the chest cavity. The pulmonary veins are then electrically isolated using radiofrequency energy applied to the outside of the heart around the pulmonary veins.

If your physician would like to refer you for a consultation or you would like to make an appointment to speak with us concerning the treatment options available to you in our Atrial Fibrillation Center please call (201) 996-2997.

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