Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is an irregular, often rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots in the heart. Stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related conditions increase when someone experiences atrial fibrillation.
The main goals of atrial fibrillation treatment are controlling your heart rate, regaining a normal rhythm, and reducing your risk of stroke. The first form of treatment physicians turn to is medication. If medication doesn’t help, surgery will be the next option.
Stroke risk can increase in those who take blood thinners to reduce clotting. Physicians often prescribe blood thinners to AFib patients to prevent clot-related strokes, but it can also increase the risk of stroke related to bleeding and blood vessel rupture. There is an alternative to blood thinners that helps reduce the risk of all types of stroke: the WATCHMAN device. The device is a quarter-sized implant that sits in the left atrial appendage, reducing the risk of stroke and allowing patients to ease off of blood thinning medication.