Slowing down? Out of breath? Unable to take blood thinners?
You May Have Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is one of the most common heart arrhythmias, or heartbeat abnormalities. People with AFib have an irregular and often rapid heart rate. This is due to an electrical impulse misfiring that causes the heart's two upper chambers (the atria) to beat irregularly and chaotically, making them out of sync with the heart’s two lower chambers (the ventricles). Because AFib impairs blood flow, the condition is serious and can increase risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications and requires medical attention.
Not all people who have AFib experience symptoms. Some people experience symptoms and episodes of AFib that come and go (occasional AFib), while others have persistent or even permanent AFib.
Atrial fibrillation symptoms may include:
- Racing or fluttering heart
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
Risk FactorsThe primary risk factor associated with AFib is an unavoidable one: age.
Other risk factors include:
- Heart disease/a history of heart attack or heart surgery
- High blood pressure
- Chronic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems, sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, chronic kidney disease or lung disease
- Drinking alcohol, especially binge drinking
- Family history of arrhythmia or AFib
Diagnostic Testing and TreatmentsThe Roper St. Francis Atrial Fibrillation Clinic offers thorough diagnostic testing for a full range of treatments. These treatments may include anticoagulation medications and other surgical or non-surgical interventions to try to alter the heart's electrical system and reduce risk of stroke.
Most important thing to remember about AFib is that it does require medical attention.