Atrial fibrillation (AFib) can lead to a variety of potentially serious complications. While there isn’t a cure for AFib, treatment can successfully manage symptoms.
While there’s no known cure for AFib, a variety of treatments and lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms.
According to the
Paroxysmal AFib is a type of AFib where symptoms come and go. People with paroxysmal AFib experience symptoms that resolve on their own within 7 days. The frequency of these episodes can be different for every person.
Paroxysmal AFib can eventually progress to persistent AFib, which is where symptoms last longer than 7 days. In this type of AFib, heart rhythm typically only returns to normal after treatment.
A 2015 review estimates that 10–20% of people with paroxysmal AFib progress to persistent AFib within 1 year. It notes that the rate of progression increases as more time passes. Known
- higher BMI
- higher heart rate
- older age
- high systolic blood pressure
- history of overactive thyroid, stroke, or heart failure
Persistent AFib can progress to longer-lasting types of AFib, including permanent AFib. As such, it’s vital to take steps to manage AFib, regardless of what type you have.
Even if your AFib is resolved, you may still be at a higher risk of AFib-related complications. For example, a
Recurrences of atrial fibrillation
Ablation is an elective procedure that can treat AFib by destroying the abnormal heart tissue that is triggering the condition. Compared to antiarrhythmic drugs, it’s associated with improved
Potential complications of atrial fibrillation
AFib is associated with various potentially serious complications. One of these is stroke. The effects of AFib can increase the risk of blood clot formation in the heart. If a blood clot dislodges and travels from your heart to your brain, an ischemic stroke can occur.
Having AFib increases the risk of ischemic stroke by five times, according to the
Other potential complications of AFib include:
While there is no cure for AFib, treatment can help manage your symptoms and reduce your risk of complications. Treatment of AFib focuses on normalizing heart rhythm and rate and reducing the chance of blood clots.
Medications are often part of AFib treatment. Examples include:
- antiarrhythmic drugs to manage heart rhythm
- blood pressure medications like beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers to lower heart rate
- blood thinners to reduce the chance of blood clots
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes are also an important aspect of AFib treatment, as they can help to
- taking steps to manage your weight if you have overweight or obesity
- quitting smoking
- limiting or abstaining from alcohol consumption
- being physically active on a regular basis
- focusing on a heart-healthy diet
- reducing your stress levels
- getting enough sleep at night
- managing other underlying health conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes
If using medications and lifestyle changes doesn’t help manage your AFib, your doctor may recommend that you have a procedure or surgery. These include:
People with AFib have a higher chance of poor health outcomes compared to the general population. This includes an
Overall, getting prompt treatment for AFib is vital for improving outcomes and preventing complications. For example, a 2022 study found that early rhythm control in people with AFib lowered the chance of poor cardiovascular outcomes, although this effect was reduced in people ages 75 or older.
There’s no cure for AFib, but treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent complications. While spontaneous remission can happen, this is rare. Most people with AFib will continue to experience symptoms either occasionally or chronically.
Paroxysmal AFib, in which AFib symptoms come and go on their own, can develop into more persistent or even permanent types of AFib. This makes prompt treatment vital to improve outlook and prevent complications.
The outlook for AFib depends on several factors, such as the type of AFib you have, your age, and your overall health. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with AFib, talk with your doctor about your individual outlook and treatment recommendations.