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                Atrial Fibrillation

When to Seek Medical Care

Call for treatment within 24 hours if you have atrial fibrillation that comes and goes, have previously been evaluated and treated, and are not experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, or fainting.

Call if you have persistent atrial fibrillation while you are on medical therapy for the condition or you note worsening of your symptoms, or new symptoms such as fatigue or mild shortness of breath.

Call if you have questions about medications and dosages.

Call 911 for emergency medical services when atrial fibrillation occurs with any of the following:

  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Fainting or light headedness
  • Weakness

Not all heart palpitations are atrial fibrillation, but a continuing feeling of your heart fluttering in your chest together with a fast or slow pulse should be evaluated by your doctor or at a hospital emergency department.

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Self-Care at Home

There is no effective home treatment for atrial fibrillation. If your doctor recommends lifestyle changes or prescribes medicine, follow his or her recommendations exactly. This is the only way to see whether the treatment works.

Prevention

If you do not have atrial fibrillation, you can lower your chance of getting this arrhythmia by reducing your risk factors. This includes risk factors for coronary  heart disease and high blood pressure.

  • Make nutritious, low-fat foods the basis of what you eat.
  • Take part in moderately strenuous physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Use alcohol in moderation, if at all.
  • Use caffeine in moderation, if at all. Avoid other stimulants.

If you have atrial fibrillation, your health care provider may prescribe treatments for the underlying cause and to prevent future episodes of atrial fibrillation. These treatments might include any of the following (see Medical treatment for more information).

  • Cardio version
  • Pacemaker
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Maze surgery

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