Treatment Options for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)

Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib, is the most common type of serious heart arrhythmia. While some people might never experience any symptoms accompanying AFib, others might end up with serious health complications, including stroke. In fact, according to the CDC, more than 450,400 hospitalizations with AFib as the primary diagnosis are reported each year in the US. But there are multiple treatment options available for AFib; it’s important to know what they are, so you can find out which will suit your specific needs best.

Atrial Fibrillation & What It Does To Your Body

Atrial fibrillation typically develops in the upper chambers of your heart. If you are in AFib, it means that your heart’s electrical system isn’t working as it should, because your electrical impulses have become chaotic. Your SA node, which generates an electrical signal that causes the upper heart chambers to contract, isn’t directing your heart’s electrical rhythm. Instead, many different impulses are rapidly firing at the same time, causing a chaotic rhythm.

heart beat drawn

There are three main types of atrial fibrillation:

  1. Paroxysmal AFib lasts less than one week and usually clears up on its own without treatment.
  2. Persistent AFib lasts more than one week and requires treatment.
  3. Long-standing persistent AFib lasts more than a year and is sometimes difficult to treat.

You  have a higher risk of developing AFib if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Lung diseases
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • High blood pressure

Treatment Options

There are multiple treatment options available for AFib, including:

Medications4 different types of medication pills

There are various types of medications that can help treat AFib, like rate control medications, which prevent the ventricles from beating too fast. There are also rhythm control medications, which help your heart beat in a normal rhythm, and are used to maintain the heart’s rhythm with no arrhythmias. In addition, blood thinners can reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. Rate control medication is generally the first line of treatment for AFib, since it controls the heart rate without changing its rhythm, helping to bring your heart rate to a normal level. 


 Surgery is another option that can help regulate your heartbeat. Surgical options include:

  • Electrical cardioversion electrically “resets” your heart rhythm using low-energy shocks.
  • Pulmonary vein ablation uses catheters to deliver energy outside and around your pulmonary veins.
  • A permanent pacemaker might be inserted if you have a slow heart rate, but this is usually only done if you have another arrhythmia in addition to AFib.
  • Left atrial appendage closure is a procedure that reduces your risk of blood clots and stroke.
  • The MAZE procedure creates scar tissue that helps your heart’s electrical impulses travel in the right path., and has a high success rate.

Affordable Coverage

So, while AFib can cause serious complications, there are multiple treatment options that can help keep this condition under control. They can be expensive, though, so it’s important to have comprehensive health insurance.

The best way to find a plan that suits your needs is to work with a licensed agent who is familiar with all available plans. EZ can help you in your search for comprehensive coverage, since we offer a wide range of health insurance plans from top-rated insurance companies in every state. And because we work with so many companies, and can offer all of the plans available in your area, we can find you a plan that saves you a lot of money – even hundreds of dollars – even if you don’t qualify for a subsidy. There is no obligation, or hassle, just free quotes on all available plans in your area. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local agent, call 888-350-1890.

Does Medicare Cover Atrial Fibrillation Treatments?

September is National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month. Atrial Fibrillation, also known as AFib, is a major health concern in the United States, affecting 2.3 million Americans. It is also the most common form of arrhythmia in patients over 65; in fact, around 70% of people with atrial fibrillation are between the ages of 65 and 85 years old. If you are an older adult with this condition, you are at significantly higher risk of having a stroke, so it is important to receive the proper treatment – but are these treatments covered under Medicare? 

illustration of a heart with a red circle around it
With AFib, the heart will beat irregularly due to a change in the blood flow.

What Is Atrial Fibrillation?

Your heart has four chambers: two upper chambers called atria, and two lower chambers called ventricles. In a healthy heart, the atria beat regularly, helping blood flow to the ventricles, but if you suffer from atrial fibrillation, your atria beat irregularly, changing the blood flow, making it either too fast or too slow. If AFib is not controlled, it can lead to severe complications such as stroke, blood clots, and even death; in fact, patients with the disease are twice as likely to die as patients without AFib. 

Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that increase your risk of atrial fibrillation, including:

  • Older age 
  • Gender – Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop AFib
  • Obesity – Obese patients have a 1.5 to 2.3 times greater risk of developing AFib, and of having the condition progress to permanent AFib
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes 
  • High blood pressure

Common Symptoms

illustration of a woman who is dizzy
Dizziness is a common symptom of AFib.

A person with atrial fibrillation might have no symptoms, or they might experience mild symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Low blood pressure
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Weakness

Medicare Coverage & Costs

Medicare covers various treatments for AFib, as long as the treatment is deemed medically necessary by your doctor. Part A will generally cover:

  • Hospital or skilled nursing facility stays brought on by your AFib
  • Pacemaker placement
  • Catheter and surgical ablation
  • Electrical cardioversion- This is a low-voltage shock that helps to regulate your heartbeat
  • Chemical cardioversion- This type of treatment involves getting medications through an IV in a hospital setting

Medicare Part B will cover any outpatient services, including doctor visits, screenings, and diagnostic exams; Part B will also cover cardiovascular disease screening every 5 years, as well as  cardiac rehabilitation programs. As with any medically necessary services, Medicare Part B will only cover up to 80% of the expenses, leaving you to pay the remaining 20%, as well as your Part B deductible, out-of-pocket.

Saving Money 

Atrial fibrillation can be a costly condition to manage because it often requires ongoing treatment and medication; in fact, according to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), the management of the condition and its complications costs the U.S. healthcare system roughly $26 billion dollars each year! For individuals managing the condition, costs can add up fairly quickly, especially since Medicare Part B does not cover piggy bank with coins stacked in front of it If you have a lot of medical expenses because of a condition like AFib, a Medicare Supplement Plan can help save you a lot of money. Most of these plans will cover many of the out-of-pocket expenses that Medicare does not, like copays and coinsurance, or even for medical care while you’re traveling. In most states, you have the choice of 10 different Medicare Supplement Plans with different levels of coverage and price points, so you’re sure to find a plan that is right for you.

If you need help finding the right Medicare Supplement Plan for you, EZ can help, because our agents work with the top-rated insurance companies in the country. You will be paired with your own agent who will compare all available plans in your area to help find a plan that meets your financial and medical needs. All of our services come at no cost to you, and there is no obligation and no hassle. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to one of our license agents, call 888-753-7207.