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Your Healthy Family: Ways to treat Atrial Fibrillation

Posted at 7:48 AM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 12:55:14-04

NAPLES, Fla. — A Doctor from the NCH Heart Institute talked to Fox 4 about ways to treat Atrial Fibrillation. Atrial Fibrillation, or A-Fib, is an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to blood clots in your heart.

“The good thing is once we diagnose A-Fib, we can treat it," Dr. Dinesh Sharma, an Electrophysiologist who specializes in heart rhythm disorders, said.

Dr. Sharma said certain medications can bring the heart back into regular rhythm. Patients with Atrial Fibrillation are at a high risk of stroke because when the heart isn't beating right, the blood flow is sluggish and can form tiny blood clots.

"One of the important treatments is blood thinners, which can decrease the risk of stroke by around 70 percent," he said.

But Dr. Sharma said some patients have trouble taking blood thinners.

"They start having problems such as bleeding or they fall a lot, or they have some conditions which make them not suitable for blood thinners," Dr. Sharma said.

Another treatment option is called Catheter Ablation.

“We go through the groin into the heart, and we cauterize the tissue in the heart which we think is unstable, or causing the arrhythmia," Dr. Sharma said.

Catheter Ablation uses extreme heart or cold to create scar tissue in the heart to block abnormal electrical signals, and bring the heart back into normal rhythm. Dr. Sharma says this is 80 percent effective, but has some downsides.

“It has its drawbacks, because heat or cold is not specific just to the heart," Dr. Sharma said.

He said that extreme heat or cold could damage surrounding organs, like the esophagus, which is right behind your heart. Dr. Sharma said the risk of that is less than 1 percent, but still, there's always that risk.