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There is no effective home treatment for atrial fibrillation while it is occurring. However, if the doctor recommends lifestyle changes or prescribes medicine, follow his or her recommendations exactly. Lifestyle changes may prevent AFib associated with holiday heart (AFib episodes brought on by stress, alcohol, or stimulant use). In addition, careful adherence to medication at home may also prevent many episodes of AFib. This is the only way to see whether the medical treatment works or needs adjustment.
Patients with complications of stroke or heart failure resulting from atrial fibrillation or as the root cause of AFib have a more guarded outcome than those without complications. However, for most people with atrial fibrillation, relatively simple treatment dramatically lowers the risk of serious outcomes. Those who have infrequent and brief episodes of atrial fibrillation may need no further treatment other than learning to avoid the triggers of their episodes, such as caffeine, alcohol, or overeating.
Individuals that do not have atrial fibrillation can lower their chance of getting this arrhythmia by minimizing risk factors. This includes minimizing the risk factors for coronary heart disease and high blood pressure listed below.
- Do not smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Make nutritious, low-fat or nonfat foods the basis of a lifestyle; some physicians suggest increasing a person's intake of fish oil, fiber, and vegetables.
- Take part in moderately strenuous physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day.
- Control (reduce) high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Use alcohol in moderation (maximum of 1-2 drinks per day), if at all.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants as much as is possible.
If patients have atrial fibrillation, their health care professional may prescribe treatments for the underlying cause and to prevent future episodes of atrial fibrillation. These treatments might include any of the following (see Medical Treatment for more information):
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Maze surgery
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Gage, Brian F., et al. "Validation of clinical classification schemes for predicting stroke: results from the National Registry of Atrial Fibrillation." The Journal of the American Medical Association 285.22 (2001): 2864-2870.
Rosenthal, Lawrence, et al. "Atrial Fibrillation." Medscape. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/151066-overview#a0104>.
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UpToDate. Patient information: Atrial fibrillation (Beyond the Basics).