Is there a procedure to eliminate arterial fibrillation?

1 answer | Last updated: Jan 17, 2012
Fja96 asked...

Is there a procedure to eliminate arterial fibrillation?

Expert Answers

James Frank is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the V.A. Medical Center in San Francisco.

There is a procedure called ablation, in which the electrical connection between the atria and ventricles is cauterized. This prevents the electrical impulses from the atria from being transmitted to the ventricles. The good news is that this can control your heart rate: the ventricles will no longer beat too quickly, and the heart will be able to pump enough blood. But the downside is that the atria will still fibrillate, allowing blood to pool and clot, which can cause a stroke. So you would still need to be treated with anticoagulants.

Medications such as beta blockers or calcium channel blockers or other drugs can usually control the heart rate, in which case the ablation procedure isn't necessary.