Atrial fibrillation can also be referred to as AF or AFib. AF is the most common arrhythmia, affecting over 5 million Americans. During AF, there is very rapid disorganized beating of the atria. This leads to poor pumping of blood from the atria into the ventricles. Since blood is not effectively pumped in the atria, blood clots can develop there which can result in a stroke. Blood thinners need to be considered for all patients with AF depending on various stroke risk factors.
Patients with AF may experience heart fluttering or racing, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and various other symptoms. Some patients may not experience any symptoms at all.
An electrical shock procedure called cardioversion can be performed under deep sedation to convert the AF into a normal rhythm. Medications may be required to slow the heart rate down and/or to restore or maintain normal rhythm. In patients with symptomatic AF who are not controlled with medications, cardiac AF ablation can be considered to keep patients in normal rhythm. AF ablation, which is sometimes referred to as pulmonary vein isolation (PVI), is done by burning the tissue that causes or predisposes to AF.