AFib with RVR is a medical term associated with arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. While some people with arrhythmias don’t experience symptoms, others who suffer from atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response (RVR) do have symptoms. RVR occurs when the ventricles, which are the lower chambers of the heart, beat too fast.
Atrial fibrillation or AFib is the most common type of arrhythmia. This means the heart can beat too slowly, too quickly, or it can beat irregularly. Sometimes, heart arrhythmia can lead to heart failure, heart attack, stroke, or low blood flow. On the upside, most people with arrhythmias lead normal lives.
Medical data suggests that about two percent of the American population under the age of 65 have either permanent AFib or intermittent AFib. The prevalence in people over 65 is around nine percent. AFib with RVR typically includes symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat and chest pain.
AFib vs. AFib with RVR?
When asking yourself what is AFib with RVR, it can be helpful to ask a doctor for a comparison between typical AFib and AFib with a rapid ventricular response. Controlled AFib is different from AFib with RVR. As we look at the two, we have to take into account heart rates. With controlled atrial fibrillation, a person has a heart rate that ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. However, people who suffer from AFib with RVR can experience heart rates of 150 to 200 beats per minute. This kind of demand on the heart leads to instability in blood pressure.
What Are the Symptoms of AFib with RVR?
If you or someone you know is suffering from AFib and RVR is involved, chances are that some of the following AFib with RVR symptoms will appear:
- Heart flutters
- Pressure or tightness in the neck
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Weakness or loss of energy
- Chest pain
- Difficulty with physical activity
Symptoms of AFib with RVR should not be ignored. It’s important to seek medical attention to address the signs.
Complications of AFib with RVR
While we have established an AFib with RVR definition, as well as the likely symptoms, it is also important to understand that it can be a serious condition. If it is not treated, over time, it could lead to congestive heart failure. In cases where an individual already has another type of heart condition, the risk of heart failure is even higher.
People who have AFib with RVR are also at a higher risk of having a stroke due to the increased chance of blood clots. AFib has been linked to cardiogenic shock. This is something that happens when there is a decrease in the heart’s output, and oxygen flow to muscles and other tissues is reduced.
How Is AFib with RVR Diagnosed?
To reach an AFib with RVR diagnosis, a doctor will carry out a number of different tests, including those listed here:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – this records the electrical signals that pass through the heart.
- Holter monitor – this is a portable ECG that is worn for a period of time to continuously record heart activity.
- Event recorder – an event recorder is a Holter that is worn for an extended period of time – usually once a month. When a person feels like they’re experiencing cardiac symptoms, they activate the recorder.
- X-ray – a chest X-ray may be used to rule out other conditions of the heart and lung that can cause similar symptoms.
- Stress test – this is a test that monitors the heart during exercise.
- Echocardiogram – this is a test whereby sound waves create pictures of the heart, enabling the doctor to see if any blood clots have formed due to AFib.
- Blood tests – this can rule out other problems that cause similar symptoms.
Treatment Methods for AFib with RVR
AFib with RVR treatment depends on how long a person has had the condition and how severe the symptoms are. As you can see from the list below, there are several treatments for AFib with RVR, including medications and procedures. Either way, the idea is to control the electrical impulses that cause fast rhythm. Any preventative measures focus on reducing the risk of blood clots.
- Antiarrhythmic medications – used to control heart rhythm and prevent episodes of AFib.
- Beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers – prescribed to help control heart rate.
- Blood thinners – recommended to prevent and reduce the risk of blood clots
- Cardioversion – a treatment for AFib with RVR that can involve medicine to bring back a regular heartbeat. Alternatively, cardioversion can be performed through a procedure that involves the doctor sending an electrical shock to the heart.
- Radiofrequency ablation – this is a procedure that involves applying electrical energy to the area around the pulmonary vein to create roadblocks at the vein that shield the atrium from electrical activity that causes AFib.
- Surgery – this could include Catheter ablation; a procedure that calls for a long tube to be inserted into the groin to access blood vessels in the heart. When the catheter reaches the heart, the tip can freeze or heat areas that are misfiring and restore regular rhythm.
Atrioventricular (AV) node ablation also uses a catheter but when it reaches the upper chambers of the heart, radiofrequency energy destroys a small piece of tissue that connects the upper and lower chambers of the heart. A pacemaker will be implanted and the patient will take blood thinners.
Another surgical procedure to treat AFib with RVR is called Surgical Maze. This is open-heart surgery that creates scar tissue to stop electrical impulses from misfiring. This should only be considered when less invasive treatment is not suitable.
Home Remedies for AFib with RVR
Many doctors will suggest additional home treatment that focuses on lifestyle adjustments to manage the condition.
Here are some home remedies that could be recommended to address AFib with RVR:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Manage high blood pressure
- Keep cholesterol under control
- If you are a smoker, quit
- Exercise regularly
- Only drink alcohol and caffeine in moderation
Having AFib with RVR can be overwhelming, so if you have been diagnosed with the condition and are struggling to manage lifestyle changes, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor, dietician, or psychologist.
With proper medical and lifestyle management, most people with AFib are able to reduce their risk of complications, such as stroke and heart failure. Keep in mind that part of managing AFib with RVR means maintaining regular check-ups with your doctor.