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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Atrial Fibrillation

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Atrial Fibrillation [posted 8/5/98]
Question: I am a police officer and am taking atenolol for hypertension. I recently chased two suspects and after the chase I experienced atrial fibrillation. This was confirmed at my family doctor by an EKG. He told me this should go away by the next day, which it did. Is this something to be concerned with? He told me if I experienced another such episode I may have to be put on medication, such as lanoxin, and in worse case have my heart shocked into normal rhythm. I would appreciate any information. I am 40 years old and experienced a similar episode when I was 28, but had no problems until this episode.

Answer: Atrial fibrillation is rapid uncontrolled beating of the two upper chambers of the heart - the atria. This can be due to any of several factors: coronary disease, inherited anomalies, hyperthyroidism, etc. Your doctor is giving you correct data concerning treatment. Recurrent atrial tachycardia is also occasionally treated by electrical physiology analysis and ablatement of certain electrical tracts which are responsible for the tachycardia. I agree with the current treatment. If it reoccurs you might also see a electrophysiologist (can be arranged by your doctor).

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