Ask the Cardiologist: Is anticoagulant medication required after v-fib?

cardiologist Dr. Maciej Malinski is on the medical staff at Sherman Hospital. He has been kind enough to answer some frequently asked questions related to maintaining a healthy heart in his Ask the Cardiologist series. To see all posts Dr. Malinski has written, just type “Ask the Cardiologist” into the search bar on the right.

“Is anticoagulant medication required after ventricular fibrillation? What are aftermath effects of both atrial and ventricular fibrillation and the difference between them?”

I will answer the second part of your question first. Atrial fibrillation (AF) and ventricular fibrillation (VF) are different heart rhythms caused by different factors, and with different consequences. To learn about difference between atrial fibrillation (AF) and ventricular fibrillation (VF) I would refer you to my earlier post from April 2011.

Generally after VF, patients do not require anticoagulants (otherwise called “blood thinners”), unless VF resulted in sudden cardiac death (SCD), which would cause severe damage to the cardiac muscle. In these instances, if the patient is left with a dilated–and not contracting very well–left ventricular chamber, he or she may be prescribed anticoagulants.

In AF, the upper chamber lose coordinated electrical activity, causing a loss of coordinated contraction of the heart muscle in the upper chambers. Without contraction of the muscle, the blood flow through the upper chambers becomes stagnant, and blood clots form.

If the blood clot is dislodged and floats in the bloodstream, it eventually ends up blocking a small artery in the body. If the artery is somewhere in the periphery (i.e. muscle, liver, spleen, intestine or kidney), there are usually no symptoms, and if the artery is in the brain, the patient can suffer a significant stroke. So, to prevent strokes, most patients with AF require anticoagulants.

Do you have a question for Dr. Malinski? To submit your question, either post it in the comments section below or email with the subject line “Question for Dr. Malinski.” To schedule the essential (and painless) $79 Healthy Heart CT Scan, click here.

This post is published by Sherman Health to provide general health information. It is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from your physician.

About Sherman Health

Sherman Health has provided medical care to Northern IL since 1888, and is currently home to a network of over 600 physicians. The Sherman blogs are edited by me, Luke. Questions? Comments? Links? Email address is luke at shermanhealth dot com.
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