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Which AFib treatment option is best for me?
More than Medication: Understanding AFib Treatment Options
AFib doesn't just disrupt your heartbeat. AFib increases a patient’s risk of heart failure and stroke five-fold and becomes harder to treat as symptoms become more severe, so it’s important to diagnose and seek treatment early.
To effectively navigate AFib, it is crucial to understand the options available to you. The journey of managing AFib goes beyond taking medication.
Schedule an appointment with an AFib Specialist, or electrophysiologist (EP), to learn more about the best treatment option for you.
Comparing AFib Treatment Options
How is AFib treated? Which AFib treatment option is best for me?
Everyone’s AFib experience is unique.
Most people with AFib are first put on medications to restore their heart rhythm, manage the symptoms of AFib, and minimize their risk of stroke.
Common medications (rate control therapies) include: beta blockers or non-dihydropyridine calcium channel antagonists, digitalis glycosides, amiodarone or digoxin.1
Medications may cause unwanted side effects and may not work for everyone.
Cardioversion is a controlled low-dose electric shock your doctor delivers to your heart to restore its natural rhythm. Your electrophysiologist may suggest this as an additional treatment to combine with your medications.
Cardioversion is usually not a permanent fix.
Cardiac Catheter Ablation
Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure performed by heart rhythm specialists (electrophysiologists) with benefits including improvement in quality of life, permanent symptom relief and elimination of the long-term risk of stroke and death normally associated with AFib.*
Patients receiving catheter ablation have been shown to be up to 73% more likely to be symptom-free at 4 years when compared to patients receiving drug therapy.
*Data is based on physician guidance documents and patient study <1000 patients treated with catheter ablation.
Impact of Cardiac Catheter Ablation
The Next Step in AFib Management: Cardiac Catheter Ablation
Cardiac Catheter Ablation is an advanced treatment option for patients who do not respond to AFib medications.3 The outpatient procedure is minimally invasive and works by targeting and ablating the heart tissue that is causing the abnormal heart rhythm.4-9
For most people diagnosed with AFib, the main reason for considering cardiac catheter ablation is to lessen the problems and limitations AFib causes in their everyday lives. Studies have shown that cardiac catheter ablation is more effective than drug therapy at preventing AFib recurrence or relapse and providing a significantly greater improvement in quality of life.10
Cardiac Catheter Ablation Success Factors
What are the success rates for cardiac catheter ablation?
The VISTAX trial showed that 78% of patients had freedom from AFib at 12-months following a cardiac catheter ablation procedure.11
There are many different factors that may predict the success of a catheter ablation procedure, including disease progression, sleep apnea, obesity, increased left atrial appendage size, age, and hypertension.12 Talk to your doctor about these factors prior to your procedure.
Atrial Fibrillation: Why should I consider Cardiac Catheter Ablation?
Cardiac Catheter Ablation’s Benefits and Impact on Patients
Catheter ablation is highly effective at managing the burdensome physical and mental symptoms of AFib.13
*Based on % of patients reporting problems using the EQ-5D-5L. The EQ-5D-5L is a self-assessed, health related, quality of life questionnaire. The scale measures quality of life on a 5-component scale including mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort, and anxiety/depression.
**Based on Atrial Fibrillation Effect on Quality of Life (AFEQT) survey score.
What to Expect: Cardiac Catheter Ablation Recovery Time
How Long is the Recovery for Cardiac Catheter Ablation?
Cardiac catheter ablation usually doesn’t require a prolonged hospital stay. Depending on your condition, you may be able to go home the same day as your procedure.14 Most people can return to their daily activities within a few days after having cardiac ablation.15
Talk with your doctor to understand when it’s safe to resume physical activity.
Understanding EP: Specialized AFib Care
What are Cardiac Electrophysiologists?
A cardiac electrophysiologist (EP) is a specialized cardiologist that completes an additional 2 years of training beyond that required for board certification in cardiology.16
An electrophysiologist has the specialized education and experience needed to do advanced cardiac-related procedures to treat conditions such as atrial fibrillation, such as cardiac catheter ablation.
Innovative AFib Treatment with AFib Specialists
When should I see a Cardiac Electrophysiologist?
If left untreated, AFib can lead to other conditions including heart failure, stroke and death. AFib becomes harder to treat as symptoms become more severe.
Your primary care doctor or cardiologist may refer you to a cardiac electrophysiologist if they believe you have an electrical problem with your heart.
Don’t wait to treat your AFib. A cardiac electrophysiologist can determine if cardiac catheter ablation is right for you.17
AFib Community & Support
Don't face AFib alone.
If you or someone you love is affected by AFib, join our Facebook community to share your experiences, ask questions, and get support from others like you.
Reignite Your Life's Potential with Cardiac Catheter Ablation
Is Cardiac Catheter Ablation right for me?
Countless individuals have experienced life-changing improvements in their health and quality of life by undergoing a Cardiac Catheter Ablation procedure.
Don’t wait. AFib is a progressive disease that may get worse over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are essential. If left untreated, AFib can lead to other conditions including heart failure, stroke and death.
Patients not paid for their testimonials. These symptoms are not exclusive. You may experience symptoms that are different from those described here. Contact your doctor or go to your nearest emergency room if you have or experience a sudden onset of these or other worrying symptoms.
Embrace Support, Embrace Hope.
Join our Facebook community to connect with individuals who understand your journey with AFib. Share triumphs and challenges, discover compassion, and find the support you need to navigate AFib with confidence.
Empower Yourself. Make Informed Decisions.
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Don't wait to get the support you deserve.
Don’t settle. Find an AFib specialist in your area who understands your unique needs and can provide the specialized care you deserve.
References & Disclaimers
1. January, Craig T., et al. “2014 AHA/ACC/HRS guideline for the management of patients with atrial fibrillation: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Heart Rhythm Society.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 64.21 (2014): e1-e76.
2. Calkins H, Reynolds MR, Spector P, Sondhi M, Xu Y et al. (2009) Treatment of atrial fibrillation with antiarrhythmic drugs or radiofrequency ablation: two systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses. Circ Arrhythm Electrophysiol 2 (4): 349-361.
3. Weerasooriya R, Jais P, Le Heuzey JY, Scavee C, Choi KJ et al. (2003) Cost analysis of catheter ablation for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. Pacing Clin Electrophysiol 26 (1 Pt 2): 292-294.
4. Hussein A, Das M, Chaturvedi V, Asfour IK, Daryanani N et al. (2017) Prospective use of Ablation Index targets improves clinical outcomes following ablation for atrial fibrillation. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol 28 (9): 1037-1047.
5. Taghji P, El Haddad M, Phlips T, Wolf M, Knecht S et al. (2018) Evaluation of a Strategy Aiming to Enclose the Pulmonary Veins With Contiguous and Optimized Radiofrequency Lesions in Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation: A Pilot Study. JACC Clin Electrophysiol 4 (1): 99-108.
6. Phlips T, Taghji P, El Haddad M, Wolf M, Knecht S et al. (2018) Improving procedural and one-year outcome after contact force-guided pulmonary vein isolation: the role of interlesion distance, ablation index, and contact force variability in the ‘CLOSE’-protocol. Europace 20 (FI_3): f419-f427.
7. Solimene F, Schillaci V, Shopova G, Urraro F, Arestia A et al. (2019) Safety and efficacy of atrial fibrillation ablation guided by Ablation Index module. J Interv Card Electrophysiol 54 (1): 9-15.
8. Di Giovanni G, Wauters K, Chierchia GB, Sieira J, Levinstein M et al. (2014) One-year follow-up after single procedure Cryoballoon ablation: a comparison between the first and second generation balloon. J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol 25 (8): 834-839.
9. Jourda F, Providencia R, Marijon E, Bouzeman A, Hireche H et al. (2015) Contact-force guided radiofrequency vs. second-generation balloon cryotherapy for pulmonary vein isolation in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation-a prospective evaluation. Europace 17 (2): 225-231.
10. Packer DL, Mark DB, Robb RA, et al. Effect of Catheter Ablation vs Antiarrhythmic Drug Therapy on Mortality, Stroke, Bleeding, and Cardiac Arrest Among Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: The CABANA Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019;321(13):1261–1274.
11. Duytschaever M, Vijgen J, De Potter T, Scherr D, Van Herendael H et al. (2020) Standardized pulmonary vein isolation workflow to enclose veins with contiguous lesions: the multicentre VISTAX trial. EP Europace 22 (11) 1645 1652.
12. Hugh Calkins, Gerhard Hindricks, Ricardo Cappato, et al. 2017 HRS/EHRA/ECAS/APHRS/SOLAECE expert consensus statement on catheter ablation and surgical ablation of atrial fibrillation. 2017.
13. Gupta D, Vijgen J, De Potter T, et al. (2021) Quality of life and healthcare utilisation improvements after atrial fibrillation ablation. BMJ 109(16): 1296-1302.
14. Cleveland Clinic. Catheter Ablation: Purpose, Procedure, Risk and Recovery. Cleveland Clinic (2023). Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16851-catheter-ablation. (Accessed: July 13, 2023)
15. Mayo Clinic Staff. Tests & Procedures: Cardiac Ablation. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (2022). Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cardiac-ablation/about/pac-20384993. (Accessed: July 24, 2023)
16. The Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiologist | UCLA Health Library, Los Angeles, CA. (2022, April 1). Retrieved June 21, 2023, from https://healthinfo.uclahealth.org/Conditions/Heart/Understanding/134,240
17. Cleveland Clinic. Electrophysiologist. Cleveland Clinic (2022). Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/24039-electrophysiologist. (Accessed: 13th July 2023)
Patients not paid for their testimonials. These symptoms are not exclusive. You may experience symptoms that are different from those described here. Contact your doctor or go to your nearest emergency room if you have, or experience a sudden onset, of these or other worrying symptoms.
As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. Only a cardiologist or electrophysiologist can determine whether ablation is an appropriate course of treatment. There are potential risks including bleeding, swelling or bruising at the catheter insertion site, and infection. More serious complications are rare, which can include damage to the heart or blood vessels; blood clots (which may lead to stroke); heart attack, or death. These risks need to be discussed with your doctor and recovery takes time. The success of this procedure depends on many factors, including your physical condition and your body’s ability to tolerate the procedure. Use care in the selection of your doctors and hospital, based on their skill and experience.
The THERMOCOOL SMARTTOUCH® SF Catheter is indicated for the treatment of drug refractory recurrent symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) and for drug refractory recurrent symptomatic persistent AF (continuous AF > 7 days but < 1 year), refractory or intolerant to at least 1 Class I or III AAD, when used with the CARTO® 3 System.
Important information: Prior to use, refer to the instructions for use supplied with this device for indications, contraindications, side effects, warnings and precautions.
Caution: US law restricts this device to sale by or on the order of a physician.
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