When your heart's electrical signals aren't working right, it can lead to a heartbeat that's too fast or too slow. This abnormal heart rhythm is what doctors call atrial fibrillation, or AFib for short. For most people, the faulty signals start in the heart's two upper chambers, called the atria.
But sometimes the misfiring signals can also make your heart’s two bottom chambers, called ventricles, beat too quickly. That’s a specific type of atrial fibrillation called AFib with rapid ventricular response.
Symptoms of AFib With RVR
You might feel:
What Causes AFib With RVR?
Electrical signals make your heart beat in a coordinated way. First, the atria squeeze, or contract. Then the signal travels to the lower chambers, or ventricles. They squeeze and pump out blood to your lungs and body.
In AFib, these signals don't go out correctly. Instead of contracting, the atria quiver. The flutters are too weak to send enough blood into the ventricles. In AFib with rapid ventricular response, the ventricles also beat too fast. These beats are too weak to push enough blood out of the heart to your lungs and body.
What Does AFib With RVR Feel Like?
A normal heartbeat is 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM). In AFib with RVR, your heart rate can reach more than 100 BPM.
What Are the Risk Factors for AFib?
You're more likely to get atrial fibrillation if you have:
What Are the Complications?
Any type of AFib can lead to a stroke or heart failure. If you don't get treated, over time the condition can damage your heart muscle and lead to heart failure.
But the right treatment will bring your symptoms under control and get you back into a healthy rhythm.
How Is AFib With RVR Treated?
Short-term treatment depends on your overall condition. If you aren’t stable, you’ll probably get:
- Drugs called beta-blockers. They control your heart rate. Your doctor will get them to you in your vein (they’ll call this intravenously) if you have AFib with RVR. The most commonly used drugs are:
- Or they might try calcium channel blockers. They slow your heart rate and reduce the strength of contractions:
Your doctor’s goal is to get you stable enough for:
: Your doctor gives your heart a shock to reset your heartbeat. They’ll use paddles or stick patches called electrodes onto your chest.
- First, you'll get medicine to make you fall asleep. Then, your doctor will put the paddles on your chest, and sometimes your back. These will give you a mild electrical shock to get your heart's rhythm back to normal.
- Most people only need one. Because you’re sedated, you probably won’t remember being shocked. You can usually go home the same day.
- Your skin may be irritated where the paddles touched it. Your doctor can recommend a lotion to ease pain or itching.
Once your heart rate is under control, they may suggest long-term treatment with a wider choice of beta-blockers:
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Bisoprolol (Zebeta, Ziac)
- Carvedilol (Coreg)
- Esmolol (Brevibloc)
- Labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate)
- Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol)
- Nadolol (Corgard)
- Pindolol (Visken)
- Timolol (Betimol, Istalol)
Or they might have you try one of the calcium channel blockers -- diltiazem or verapamil.