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 a senior medical editor at Caring.com and a clinical instructor in the University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics. She also provides housecalls and geriatric consultations in San Francisco.

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.