Atrial fibrillation (AFib for short) is a condition where the heart beats in an irregular or quivering manner. Some people who have AFib describe the condition as feeling as if their heart skips a beat or is banging up against their chest wall, while others claim to experience no symptoms at all. According to the American Heart Association, it is estimated that over 2.7 million Americans live with AFib.
Under normal conditions, your heart pumps blood from the top chambers, (atria) to the bottom chambers, (ventricles) in a coordinated rhythm. But for those with AFib, the electrical signals that control this system are off-kilter. Instead of working together, the atria are out of sync. The result is a fast, fluttering heartbeat.
If left untreated, AFib can lead to blood clots, stroke, or other heart-related complications, including heart failure.
In addition to feeling as if your heart is fluttering, other signs of AFib include:
- General fatigue
- Shortness of breath and anxiety
- Faintness or confusion
- Fatigue when exercising
- Chest pain or pressure
Anyone can have AFib, but it’s more common in people who are 60 or older or those with other heart problems or past heart surgeries. Family history as well as other underlying health conditions, such as hypertension, thyroid disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, obesity or sleep apnea may also contribute to the onset of AFib. Taking certain medication, smoking, and alcohol consumption can also raise the risk of AFib.
Treating AFib begins with proper diagnosis through a thorough examination which includes providing a comprehensive medical history and participating in a variety of tests, including an EKG, ECG or possibly an electrophysiology study.
If AFib is diagnosed, the goal for you and your doctor is to restore your heart to a normal rhythm and manage your risk factors of developing a stroke or other cardiac issues. This can be achieved through a variety of treatment options, including medications, as well as both surgical and nonsurgical interventions. Together you and your doctor can determine the best course of treatment.
If you are experiencing a fluttering heart, speak to your doctor immediately. If you do not have a doctor, yo make make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Cardiology at 718-206-7100.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.