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In addition to lifestyle changes, treatments often include medications, procedures, or both.

Medications are used to:

  • Slow the heart rate (rate control medications) – these keep the heart from beating too fast
  • Get the heart back to a normal rhythm (rhythm control medications)
  • Reduce the risk of stroke
Rate controlling medicationsHeart rhythm controlling medications
  • Help slow the heart rate during AFib
  • May reduce symptoms caused by a fast heart rate
  • Examples include:
    • Beta-blockers (like metoprolol or carvedilol)
    • Calcium channel blockers (like diltiazem or verapamil)
    • Digoxin, in some cases
    • These medications also are used to treat other heart conditions
  • Help restore and maintain a normal rhythm
  • May relieve symptoms caused by an irregular heart rate
  • Examples include:
    • Sotalol
    • Flecainide
    • Propafenone
    • Dronedarone
    • Dofetilide
    • Amiodarone

Finding the right medicine and dose (amount) often takes some time. In some cases, taking both a rate and rhythm control medicine might be needed.

Many people with AFib also take medicines that help lower the chance of blood clots from forming in the heart and causing a stroke.

Medications to prevent or treat blood clots and lower the chance of stroke include blood thinners, also called anticoagulants, for example: 

  • apixaban (brand: Eliquis)
  • dabigatran (brand: Pradaxa) 
  • edoxaban (brand: Savaysa) 
  • rivaroxaban (brand: Xarelto)
  • warfarin (brand name: Coumadin, Jantoven) 

Talk with your care team about which blood thinner is right for you.  

Read More: Blood thinners to prevent stroke

If you are taking warfarin, you will need regular blood tests to be sure the clotting ability of your blood (INR) is not too high or low. Some foods like spinach, kale and other vegetables are rich in vitamin K, which can disrupt the way warfarin works. You may need to be careful about how much you eat and be consistent.

Your care team may talk with you about a procedure to close the left atrial appendage – a little pouch in your heart where clots can pool if you have AFib. 

  • Last Edited 03/14/2024