If you have atrial fibrillation, you will likely take a medicine to help prevent a stroke. You may also take a medicine that slows your heart rate or controls your heart rhythm.
Medicine to prevent a stroke
Anticoagulant medicines, also called blood thinners, are recommended for most people with atrial fibrillation who are at average to high risk of stroke.
Anticoagulant choices include:
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
- Anticoagulants other than warfarin
- Apixaban (Eliquis)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
If you are at low risk of having a stroke or cannot take anticoagulants, you may choose to take daily aspirin or to not take a blood thinning medicine.Aspirin doesn’t work as well as anticoagulant medicines to prevent a stroke. But aspirin might be less likely to cause bleeding problems.
Medicine to slow your heart rate
Rate-control medicines are used if your heart rate is too fast. The medicine slows your heart rate. Your heart rate may not need to be very low. A heart rate of 110 beats per minute may be enough to help you.
These medicines include:
Rate-control medicines may relieve symptoms caused by the fast heart rate. But these medicines may not relieve other symptoms caused by atrial fibrillation.
Rhythm-control medicines (also known as antiarrhythmics) help return the heart to its normal rhythm and keep atrial fibrillation from returning. They may help relieve symptoms caused by an irregular heart rate.