Pacemaker and atrial fibrillation
There are three things a pacemaker can do in a person with atrial fibrillation:
1. It can pace the heart when the heart is unduly slowed by beta blockers or other drugs which are used to treat atrial fibrillation. This helps in optimizing the dose of beta blockers and similar drugs used for treatment of atrial fibrillation without the fear of undue slowing of the heart.
2. Multi-site atrial pacing can reduce the chance of atrial (auricular) fibrillation. There are pacemakers with special programs for prevention of atrial fibrillation. http://www.ipej.org/0302/levine3.htm
3. When the heart rate cannot be controlled adequately by medications, a procedure known as AV node ablation using radiofrequency current can be done. If this procedure is done, a pacemaker is needed to maintain the heart rate as impulses from the upper part of the heart cannot reach the lower part as the conduction is blocked in the middle.
Atrium: Upper chamber of the heart (left and right),
Atrial fibrillation: Irregular fast electrical activity of the upper chambers of the heart with no effective contraction.
Auricular fibrillation: Same as atrial fibrillation.
AV node: Specialised conduction tissue in the lower part of the right atrium which normally allows impulses to pass through with a short delay to the ventricles.