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How does propranolol treat atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia?

Propranolol, an old beta blocker, treats atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia by slowing the heart rate. Now, to treat atrial fibrillation and different arrhythmias doctors use various cardioselective beta blockers (metoprolol), calcium channel blockers (diltiazem) and antiarrhythmic medications (flecainide, sotalol, dofetilide, amiodarone).

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Atrial fibrillation occurs when the heart's electrical system does not function properly, causing arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythm. An abnormal heart rhythm manifests in quickened pulse, irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations and heart fluttering. Propranolol improves symptoms in individuals with this condition by affecting nerve impulses, prompting the heartbeat to re-regulate. Propranolol can also be injected by a medical professional in emergency situations.

Joan Haizlip, MSN
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Propranolol treats atrial fibrillation by slowing the heart rate. It is a special class of drugs called beta blockers. In atrial fibrillation, your heart is beating abnormally. The upper chambers (atria) are beating in a very irregular manner and your heartbeat is very fast and irregular. Propranolol slows down the heart rate so that you feel better.

Your healthcare provider will treat your atrial fibrillation with a combination of medications to control the rate and rhythm. You will also be taking medication to prevent blood clots.

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