Rhythm restoration important for some with atrial fibrillation

Although controlling the heart's rate is a good first step for treating atrial fibrillation, some people benefit from restoring a normal rhythm.

What to do when atrial fibrillation sets the upper chambers of the heart aquiver has vexed doctors for years. They traditionally focused on restoring the normal, steady rhythm known as sinus rhythm. That's a logical approach — after all, it's the tempo of a healthy heart. Another approach involves allowing the atria to continue contracting erratically and instead controlling the beat of the ventricles, the heart's lower chambers.

Taming atrial fibrillation is important for several reasons. This common rhythm problem can be a bother, causing palpitations, dizziness or fainting, shortness of breath, fatigue, and even chest pain. It can also promote the development of stroke-causing blood clots, lead to heart failure, and shorten one's life.

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