What are the best treatment for atrial fibrillation?


Quick Answer

The best treatment for atrial fibrillation, in the rare cases when it is safe and successful, is to restore a consistently normal heartbeat through the use of antiarrhythmic drugs. These drugs have a low success rate and potentially fatal side effects, claims About.com.

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Full Answer

All antiarrhythmic drugs have the potential to cause a potentially fatal irregular heartbeat, called proarrthymia. The risks of this side effect are specific to each drug and patient. A qualified physician must evaluate each patient's risk before prescribing these drugs, reports About.com.

Six different antiarrhythmic drugs are commonly used. Rhythmol and Tambocor are relatively safe for young, healthy patients with no existing heart disease with a low probability of developing heart disease. These drugs are moderately successful in controlling atrial defibrillation. Betapace and Tikosyn pose some risk of life-threatening proarrthymia in any patient, so they must be prescribed with extreme caution. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires doctors to undergo specialized training before prescribing Tikosyn. These drugs also have a moderate success rate, says About.com.

Cordarone has the highest success rate and relatively low risk of causing proarrythmia but poses the risk of other potentially fatal side effects, including lung damage. Patients must be closely monitored while taking the drug and for months afterward. Multaq is chemically similar to Cordarone, with less risk of side effects but less effectiveness than Cordarone. Patients who have suffered previous heart failure can not take Multaq, according to About.com.

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