Ask the Doctors December 2007 Issue

Ask The Doctors: 12/07

Sometimes, a patient who is hospitalized with a severe illness or injury can develop an irregular heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation. Many times, it is just a temporary complication that resolves on its own as the underlying illness improves, or resolves with specific in-hospital therapy. In these cases, usually no further treatment is necessary. If you developed atrial fibrillation that persisted after your discharge from the hospital, it may require specific therapy. If the heart rate is very fast, oral medications can slow down the rate. Other medications can help restore heart rhythm back to normal if the irregular rhythm is causing symptoms. The procedure known as electrical cardioversion can deliver an electrical shock to your heart to try and restore normal heart rhythm. The biggest question is whether to start you on blood thinners to try to prevent a stroke from atrial fibrillation. This will be a decision best made by you and your doctor.

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