The Role of AFib Rate &
Rhythm Treatments for an Irregular Heartbeat

When the electrical signals in your heart are interrupted, disorganized, or irregular, the upper and lower chambers don’t work together as they should to pump blood through your heart. This causes blood to pool and form clots, which increases your risk of stroke if a clot travels from your heart to your brain. A blood thinner like XARELTO® will help reduce your risk of stroke, but it’s important to return your heart rate and rhythm to normal so your blood doesn’t pool in the first place.

One way your healthcare professional might treat the electrical problems in your heart is through medication. These lists may help you get familiar with some of the medicines your healthcare professional could prescribe for you.

Medicines for heart rate control

Rate-controlling medications are used to slow a rapid heartbeat associated with AFib. Examples include:

  • Beta blockers reduce the heart rate and how hard the heart works by blocking the effects of adrenalin.
    • Atenolol
    • Bisoprolol
    • Carvedilol
    • Metoprolol
    • Nadolol
    • Propranolol
    • Timolol
  • Calcium channel blockers work by stopping heart and blood vessel tissue from absorbing calcium, which then slows the heart rate.
    • Diltiazem
    • Verapamil
  • Digoxin works to reduce the heart rate by slowing how fast electrical currents move between the upper and lower chambers of the heart.

Medicines for heart rhythm control

Rhythm-controlling medications are usually prescribed after your heart rate is under control. These medications help restore an irregular heart rhythm to normal. Examples include:

  • Sodium channel blockers work by reducing the heart’s ability to conduct electricity.
    • Flecainide
    • Propafenone
    • Quinidine
  • Potassium channel blockers work by slowing down abnormal electrical signals in the heart.
    • Amiodarone
    • Sotalol
    • Dofetilide

The above medications, often referred to as rate-and-rhythm drugs, address the electrical problems in your heart and are only one part of what should be a comprehensive treatment approach that includes a blood thinner to reduce your risk of blood clots and stroke.