AFib Awareness Month: Treatment and Risk Factors


September is Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, when the spotlight is turned on this condition—a fluttering of the heart —that makes it 5x more likely to have a stroke.

Learn about AFib’s risk factor for stroke and treatments below.

Do you need treatment?

AFib generally does not go away. However, not everyone who has AFib needs treatment (at least not right away) and not all AFib treatments are right for every patient. That’s why it’s so important to discuss your AFib with your doctor and nurse and decide together what is best for YOU. This is called Shared Decision Making. Your health care team can explain the various treatment choices. You should have the opportunity to share what is important to you. Together you and your doctor and nurse can make a plan.

Treatments for AFib include medications, surgery and other, non-surgical procedures. Your treatment will depend on several factors, including:

  • Your risk factors for stroke – see video below.
  • Your ability to tolerate specific treatments (for example, medication side effects or surgical procedures)
  • The chance for drug interactions depending on other medications you may take
  • Your overall health
  • Whether you have — or are at risk for — heart disease

What are the goals of treatment?

The two top priorities of AFib treatment are:

  1. to lower your risk of having a stroke by preventing blood clots
  2. to treat any underlying conditions that may cause AFib.

Depending on your symptoms, severity, and how AFib affects your quality of life, your health care team may also recommend treatments to control your heart rate or restore regular heart rhythm.

Evaluating Risks

Charts such as this, which show the annual stroke risk of a hypothetical AFib patient, help you evaluate the benefits and harms of potential treatments (in this case, anticoagulant medicines). The CHA2DS2-VASc score estimates patients’ risk of stroke and HEMORR2HAGES scores the risk of bleeding while taking anticoagulants. Higher numbers represent higher risk.


Read about Lifestyle Changes that will lower your risk for stroke.




Categorized in: