Medications to Control Atrial Fibrillation

One of the first steps in managing atrial fibrillation is a discussion about medications to control the afib.

Rate control and rhythm control are the two major ways of controlling afib.1

  1. Rate control medication reduces the symptoms of afib by slowing and controlling the heart rate, which may be too fast when you’re in afib. Rate control is often the first approach used.
  2. Rhythm control medication, called antiarrhythmic medication and sometimes called chemical or pharmacologic cardioversion, is designed to put you into normal sinus rhythm and hopefully keep you there. Rhythm control is typically used when afib symptoms worsen.

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Rate Control, Rhythm Control, or Both? What is Best for Me?

You and your doctor will decide on rate control, rhythm control, or both. Here are some questions to consider:

  1. What other health conditions, particularly heart conditions, do I have?
  2. What type of afib do I have (paroxysmal, persistent, permanent)?
  3. How much do my symptoms bother me?
  4. Is my afib preventing me from doing things I enjoy?
  5. What is my risk of stroke, heart failure, and other conditions associated with afib?
  6. How do I feel about taking several medications a day?
  7. Am I comfortable with the risks of the medication versus the benefits?

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