Q: If Your Heart Is In Afib 15% of the Time, is that a lot? And Are Anti-arrhythmic Drugs a Good Option To Try Before a Catheter Ablation?

Fifteen percent of the time can mean a lot of things. So, if I put a 14 day monitor on someone and they spend 24 hours of that 14 day monitor in atrial fibrillation, that’s obviously one way of meeting that 15%. But, another way would be to have hours of it multiple times a day. So, some patients may find that one day every two weeks isn’t a lot, but a couple of hours every day that adds up to 15% is a lot. So, it really depends on what that 15% is made up of and what the rhythms like during that 15% because sometimes 15% is very fast and symptomatic, or a couple hours here and there the heart rate is very fast.

Even though you may be in atrial fibrillation for all of that 15%,  some of that time in atrial fibrillation the heart may not be going fast and it may be minimally symptomatic. Or, it may be always when a patient is asleep, so they don’t realize it. In terms of stroke risk, 15% is considerable, and if someone has the risk factors for having a stroke 15% is more than enough to justify, in most patients, being on a blood thinner.

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