FAQ: Can Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Be Treated With a Pacemaker?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 17, 2016
Caring.com staff asked...

Can atrial fibrillation (A-fib) be treated with a pacemaker?

Expert Answers

Dr. Leslie Kernisan is the author of a popular blog and podcast at BetterHealthWhileAging.net. She is also a clinical instructor in the University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics.

Yes, atrial fibrillation is sometimes treated with a pacemaker.

In some people whose A-fib can't be managed with medications, cardiologists may suggest a procedure that permanently blocks the electrical connection between the upper and lower parts of the heart. This is called AV node ablation. Since this procedure eliminates the body's usual method of telling the heart to beat, the person then must get a pacemaker.

Although this approach tends to eliminate symptoms due to A-fib, it doesn't eliminate the risk of stroke, since the heart's upper chambers continue to fibrillate. For this reason, most A-fib patients with pacemakers still are treated with blood thinners.