Munson Health
Atrial Fibrillation

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by Wood D

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation include:


The goals of treatment are to:
  • Return your heart to a regular rhythm, if possible.
  • Keep your heart rate close to normal.—Your doctor will tell you your target heart rate. In general, your resting rate should be between 60-80 beats per minute. It should be 90-115 beats per minute during moderate exercise.
  • Prevent blood clots from forming.
Your doctor may find another condition that is causing atrial fibrillation. This condition may be treated. In some cases, heart rhythm problems return to normal without treatment.
Treatment options include:


  • Drugs to slow the heart rate, such as digitalis, verapamil, diltiazem, metoprolol, atenolol
  • Drugs to keep the heart in a regular rhythm, such as sotalol, propafenone, amiodarone
  • Drugs to prevent clot formation, such as warfarin, dabigatran, rivaroxaban

Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise may reduce the frequency, duration, and severity of atrial fibrillation episodes.


  • Cardioversion—This procedure uses an electrical current or drugs to help normalize the heart rhythm.
  • Ablation—An area of the heart that is responsible for atrial fibrillation may be surgically removed or altered (ablated) with various techniques.
  • Maze procedure and mini-maze procedure—The Maze procedure creates a pattern of scar tissue in the upper chambers of the heart. This makes a pathway for electrical impulses to travel through the heart. It also blocks the pathway for fast or irregular impulses. The Maze procedure may also be performed as minimally invasive surgery (called mini-Maze ).

Lifestyle Changes

Your doctor may recommend that you make lifestyle changes, such as:
  • Avoiding certain substances (e.g., caffeine and other stimulants, alcohol) that may trigger another episode
  • Having a regular exercise routine
Follow your doctor's instructions if you are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.


American Heart Association

Heart Rhythm Society



Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Canadian Family Physician



Atrial fibrillation. CardioSmart website. Available at: Accessed November 9, 2012.

Cardioversion. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: . Accessed January 30, 2008.

Cardioversion procedure. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: Updated December 28, 2011. Accessed November 9, 2012.

What is atrial fibrillation? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed November 9, 2012.

12/13/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Lubitz SA, Yin X, Fontes JD, et al. Association between familial atrial fibrillation and risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation. JAMA. 2010;304(20):2263-2269.

5/11/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Osbak PS, Mourier M, Kjaer A, Henriksen JH, Kofoed KF, Jensen GB. A randomized study of the effects of exercise training on patients with atrial fibrillation. Am Heart J. 2011;162(6):1080-1087.

1/2/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Abed HS, Wittert GA, et al. Effect of weight reduction and cardiometabolic risk factor management on symptom burden and severity in patients with atrial fibrillation: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2013 Nov 20;310(19):2050-2060.


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