Medicines for A Fib

Blood Thinners:

Depending on your “risk factors” for stroke, you will be asked by your doctor to take a blood thinner. Some patients may only need an aspirin daily. Most patients will be advised to take warfarin or coumadin, or one of the newer blood thinners such as dagibatran, apixaban etc. If you take coumadin, you will need frequent blood tests to regulate it. The newer blood thinners do not need blood tests, but depending on your insurance plan, may be expensive to buy.

 Rate Control Medicines:

Medicines such as beta blockers (e.g. metoprolol, atenolol etc) or calcium channel blockers (e.g. diltiazem, verapamil etc) or digoxin may be used to control the speed of your heart. However, these medicines generally do not help your heart to convert out of A Fib. In other words, you remain in A Fib, but your pulse (although still irregular), will be slower. This may help you feel a little better, but since you are still in A Fib, most patients still may experience some symptoms.

Rhythm Control Medicines:

These are “stronger” medicines such as propafenone, amiodarone, flecainide, sotalol, dofetilide, dronedarone etc. Their role is to try to keep you in normal sinus rhythm (or prevent you from going into a fib). They may be combined with a cardioversion or ablation, in an attempt to keep you in normal rhythm. However, they could have serious side effects and need to be monitored closely by your cardiologist.