In addition to managing your stroke risks, you and your provider may consider strategies to help you achieve what is called “normal sinus rhythm.”
What is the definition of “cured” for atrial fibrillation?
A regular pumping rhythm is an important goal, and many people who are able to achieve long-term stability with their sinus rhythm feel that their AFib is “cured.” The possibility of a lasting “cure” is most likely for people who have episodes of AFib that come and go (called paroxysmal AFib). This group is likely to have fewer complications and may experience rapid treatment success.
What is a normal sinus rhythm? Understanding Your Heart’s Electrical System
The Heartbeat Starting Point: Your SA Node The heart beats (or contracts) when an electrical impulse from the sinoatrial node (also called the SA node or sinus node) moves through the tissue of the heart. The SA node is sometimes referred to as the heart's "natural pacemaker" because it initiates impulses for the heartbeat.
The Orderly Signals For Normal Heartbeats: The normal electrical sequence begins in the right atrium and spreads throughout the atria to the atrioventricular (AV) node. From the AV node, electrical impulses travel down a group of specialized fibers called the His-Purkinje system to all parts of the ventricles.
This exact route must be followed for the heart to pump properly. As long as the electrical impulse is transmitted normally, the heart pumps and beats at a regular pace. In an adult, a normal heart beats 60 to 100 times a minute. When everything works correctly, your heart is said to be in “normal sinus rhythm.”
Atrial Fibrillation and Erratic Heartbeats: During atrial fibrillation, the sinus rhythm is disrupted and contraction signals may fire erratically from various places in the heart tissue or the nearby veins, often causing uncoordinated, fast or irregular contractions throughout the tissue and muscle around the heart. This uncoordinated timing creates a risk for blood clots to develop that can lead to stroke, so achieving a normal sinus rhythm and adhering to any clot-prevention strategies your healthcare provider advises for you are important goals.
Many people with AFib consider their condition to be cured when they achieve normal sinus rhythm and are able to maintain for a period of years. However, follow up treatment will continue to be important. A significant portion of those with AFib are unaware of any symptoms, so it is not a good idea to disregard recommended follow-up visits simply because you do not notice anything wrong.