Treatments

Atrial Fibrillation Treatments

Medications

Medications are often the first line of defense in treating atrial fibrillation. Drugs are not a cure for atrial fibrillation, but in many cases they help to make the symptoms less bothersome.

  • Heart rate control: Slowing down and controlling the heart rate during episodes of atrial fibrillation can significantly improve symptoms. To control heart rate during episodes of atrial fibrillation, we use medications, including beta-blockers, calcium blockers and digoxin.
  • Stroke prevention: We may prescribe oral blood thinners to patients with a significant risk for stroke. In patients with less risk, aspirin or heparin may be effective. For some patients, devices or surgery that may eliminate the source of stroke might be considered.
  • Heart rhythm control: By maintaining the heart rhythm in its normal state, sinus rhythm, we can prevent episodes of atrial fibrillation. Medications called anti-arrhythmic drugs help control heart rhythm for low-risk patients.

Catheter ablation

Catheter ablation is a nonsurgical treatment for irregular heartbeats, including atrial fibrillation that locates and destroys abnormal electrical pathways in the heart that cause the irregular heartbeat. Each year, at Northwestern Medicine, the Center for Heart Rhythm Disorders performs thousands of catheter ablations with a high rate of success. Although cardiac ablation can be successful, some people may need a repeat cardiac ablation in the future. After cardiac ablation, you may also need to take medication related to the atrial fibrillation diagnosis.

Surgical options

While medical management and catheter ablation are used to treat atrial fibrillation, some patients benefit from surgery. The Maze procedure is a surgical option for patients with:

  • Atrial fibrillation despite medical management
  • Severe symptoms
  • Need for valve surgery or coronary artery bypass graft surgery
  • Heart failure

Maze procedure 

The Maze procedure creates electrical blocks or barriers in the upper heart chambers (atria) that redirect the abnormal electrical signals of the heart that cause atrial fibrillation, restoring the heart rhythm. The “classic” or “cut and sew” Maze procedure is an open-heart surgery, performed through a chest (sternotomy) incision with the use of a heart-lung bypass machine. 

Treatments

We treat patients with atrial fibrillation using the most advanced medical and surgical techniques available, based on the latest evidence-based medicine. These include:

Six niche centers within the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please call 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:

Referring Physicians
Open communication and cooperation with referring physicians is a critical component of achieving high-quality care and minimizing the challenges that come with treating cardiovascular conditions. For physician-to-physician consultation regarding the best patient care, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).


Six niche centers within the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, please call 847.53.HEART (534.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


Six niche centers within the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, please call 630.232.0280

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials: