Atrial Fibrillation

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat. It reduces your heart's ability to pump blood through your body, which means you do not receive enough oxygen. Atrial fibrillation may come and go, or it may be a long-term condition. It is important to treat and manage atrial fibrillation to help prevent a blood clot or stroke.


CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Even with treatment, you may have more episodes of atrial fibrillation. You may need treatment more than once. Treatment may fail to control your heart rate and rhythm. Atrial fibrillation can increase your risk of heart failure and other heart conditions. An irregular heartbeat may cause blood to pool in your heart, and this could lead to a heart attack, blood clots, or a stroke. This can be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • Antiarrhythmics help slow your heartbeat and make it more normal.

  • Beta-blockers help keep your heartbeat in a regular rhythm.

  • Calcium channel blockers help slow your heartbeat.

  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Blood thinners may be given before, during, and after a surgery or procedure. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.

Monitoring:

  • Telemetry is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.

Tests:

  • A chest x-ray shows the structure of your heart and lungs. It may show if another condition is causing your symptoms.

  • Blood and urine tests check for infection, potassium and calcium levels, and thyroid function.

  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the structure and function of your heart.

Treatment:

  • Cardioversion is a procedure to return your heart rate and rhythm to normal. It can be done using medicines or electric shock.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Atrial Fibrillation (Inpatient Care)

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