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Understanding Atrial Fibrillation


Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a heart rhythm disorder than can disrupt your blood circulation. Some of the symptoms associated with AFib are dizziness and fainting. More serious complications include the formation of blood clots in your heart. Blood clots can break free, circulate to other parts of your body, and cause a stroke (brain) or pulmonary embolism (lungs). 

At Dignity Health, our doctors are knowledgeable in the most advanced treatment protocols, including atrial fibrillation treatment in the Bay Area. Find a Doctor today for a consultation with a heart specialist.

AFib Treatment at Dignity Health

The aim of any AFib treatment is to restore your normal heart rhythm, reduce the risk of blood clots, and if possible, address existing underlying causes. AFib treatment options include: 

  • Heart medications to correct an irregular heartbeat and slow the heart’s contractions
  • Blood-thinning medications to help prevent blood clots
  • Cardioversion therapy to reset your heart’s rhythm
  • Catheter ablation to destroy abnormal cells that are causing the irregular heartbeat
  • Maze surgery to disrupt your heart’s abnormal electrical signals

The exact treatment options your doctor recommends will depend on the specific details of your condition. 

For example, if you have heart disease, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and prescribe you medicine to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure. If, however, your AFib developed due to valve disease or a structural heart defect, surgery may be the recommended solution. 

Considering Your Options for Treatment

In discussing your treatment options with your Dignity Health doctor, you should ask about the following: 

  • The goal of the recommended treatment
  • How long you will need the treatment
  • Any side effects of recommended medications
  • Why the recommended treatment is the best option in your particular case

Your best treatment option will depend on your overall health, the severity of your symptoms, and how successful the treatment is likely to be in your specific circumstances.

What Can You Do to Prevent AFib?

Most AFib cases result from an underlying heart problem or heart-related condition. While it is not always possible to prevent AFib, you can reduce your risk of heart-related AFib by taking these steps: 

  • Quit smoking.
  • Control and treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Limit salt in your diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.

Want to know more about heart-healthy living? Take our free heart risk assessment.

Dignity Health offers state-of-the-art diagnostics and advanced treatments, including treatment for atrial fibrillation, in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood CIty.