If you have atrial fibrillation, you will likely take a medicine to help prevent a Reference stroke Opens New Window. You may also take a medicine that controls your heart rate or 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:
- Reference Warfarin (Coumadin).
Reference Anticoagulants other than warfarin.
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
If you are age 55 or older and have atrial fibrillation, you can find your risk of having a stroke in the next 5 years using this Reference Interactive Tool: What Is Your Risk for a Stroke if You Have Atrial Fibrillation? Reference
For help deciding about an anticoagulant, see:
- Opens New Window Atrial Fibrillation: Should I Take an Anticoagulant to Prevent Stroke? Opens New Window
- Opens New Window Atrial Fibrillation: Which Anticoagulant Should I Take to Prevent Stroke? Opens New Window
Aspirin and other antiplatelet medicines
If you are at low risk of stroke or cannot take anticoagulants, your doctor may recommend that you take aspirin. It doesn't work as well as anticoagulant medicines in preventing clots, but it doesn't have as many side effects.
Your doctor may have you take other antiplatelet medicines, such as clopidogrel (Plavix), along with aspirin or instead of aspirin. When aspirin and clopidogrel are used together, they may reduce the risk for stroke more than aspirin alone. But this combination is also more likely to cause bleeding than aspirin alone.
Medicine to control your heart rate
Rate-control medicines are used if your heart rate is too fast. These medicines include:
Rate-control medicines may relieve symptoms caused by the fast heart rate. But these medicines may not be an option if you have severe symptoms.
Medicine to control your heart rhythm
Reference 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.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 9, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology