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What should you expect after an atrial fibrillation procedure?

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After an atrial fibrillation procedure, chances of another atrial fibrillation episode are high; therefore, the doctor usually prescribes anti-arrhythmic medications to lower the chances. He also prescribes medication to control heart rate and schedules follow-up procedures to restore the heart’s rhythm if the medication doesn’t work, says Mayo Clinic.

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Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rate that causes poor blood circulation in the body. It occurs when the heart’s upper chambers beat irregularly and out of pace with the lower chambers, causing heart palpitations, weakness and shortness of breath. An atrial fibrillation procedure, known as electrical cardioversion, resets and controls the patient’s heart rate. After cardioversion, the doctor prescribes anti-arrhythmic medications such as flecainide, dofetilide, amiodarone or propafenone to reduce the chances of another atrial fibrillation episode. These drugs can cause nausea, fatigue, dizziness and, in rare cases, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias, according to Mayo Clinic.

The doctor may prescribe medication such as digoxin to control and restore the heart rate when the patient is at rest and beta-blockers, which are more effective when a patient is active, explains Mayo Clinic. However, beta-blockers can worsen heart failure and trigger low blood pressure. If the medication is ineffective, the doctor recommends procedures such as a surgical maze procedure, atrioventricular node ablation or catheter ablation to destroy the heart tissue causing the abnormal heart rate. The doctor often prescribes anticoagulants such as warfarin, dabigatran, rivaroxaban or apixaban to reduce the chances of developing blood clots.

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