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Understanding Your Treatment Options for Atrial Fibrillation

Heart arrhythmias are conditions marked by irregular or abnormal heartbeats. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of arrhythmia, affecting nearly three million Americans. Symptoms of AFib are described as a quivering or fluttering in the chest. 

At Dignity Health, our cardiac care team designs personalized treatment plans for you based on your own needs and specific condition. If you would like to speak to a doctor about AFib in the Bay Area, you can Find a Doctor online.

Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms

Many people with AFib have no noticeable symptoms. The condition is usually discovered during a physical exam by a doctor. When symptoms do occur, the most common symptom is a fluttering feeling in the chest. Symptoms of AFib can be occasional and do not require treatment. For permanent or persistent AFib symptoms, treatment can help control your heart rate. Other symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty exercising (easily winded)
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

You should call 9-1-1 if you have severe chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack.

Causes of Atrial Fibrillation

AFib is caused by damage to the heart’s electrical system, which leads to rapid and disorganized signals. Conditions that can cause this damage include:

Things that make you more likely to develop AFib include: :

  • Advanced age
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Family history of AFib
  • Obesity

Certain medical conditions, including thyroid disease, sleep apnea, diabetes, and lung disease

Diagnosing Atrial Fibrillation

Your cardiologist at Dignity Health will likely use one of the following diagnostic tests to diagnosis AFib: 

Treating Atrial Fibrillation in the Bay Area

The cardiac care team at Dignity Health will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan with the goal of controlling your heart rate and preventing blood clots that could cause a stroke. 

Treatment for AFib may involve trying to reset your heart’s rhythm. This can be done in many ways, including:

  • Electrical cardioversion: electric shocks to restore normal rhythm
  • Chemical or pharmacologic cardioversion: drugs to restore normal rhythm
  • Catheter ablation: surgery to remove abnormal tissue causing the disorganized signals
  • Maze surgery: surgery to disperse the abnormal signals

If doctors can’t restore your normal heart rhythm with one of these treatments, medicines can be used help manage your symptoms.

Dignity Health provides specialized cardiac care to treat or manage all types of AFib in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.