Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Controlling Atrial Fibrillation

Monday, 22 June 2009 03:43 PM

Question: Are there natural ways to control atrial fibrillation outside of prescription medications including blood thinners? Is Lanoxin the primary medication for controlling AF?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Lanoxin often is used to control atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat, also called an arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation may accelerate the ventricular rate (the main pumping chambers of the heart) to very rapid rates. Drugs such as Lanoxin and Cardizem usually control it.

Ineffective muscular contractions of the atria place some victims at increased risk for embolism and stroke. Patients older than 50 to 60 usually are placed on lifetime Coumadin if the atrial fibrillation doesn't revert to regular rhythm (called sinus rhythm) to reduce the incidence of stroke. In younger patients, we avoid Coumadin if possible. Coumadin requires very close monitoring to prevent uncontrolled bleeding, and tests are usually performed monthly.

In the past, sometimes multiple cardiac drugs (anti-arrhythmic) were used to convert AF to normal sinus rhythm. Although initial attempts to convert often are reasonable, taking multiple drugs beyond those that control rate (such as Lanoxin) once the rhythm has returned to normal, has been shown to be more harmful than helpful because of side effects

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