It's a bird...it's a plane...it's your heart?

September 04, 2017

September is Atrial Fibrillation Awareness month

By Joshua Buckler, MD and Sally Alfred, NP

Often described as a sensation of fluttering, racing, rumbling or even pounding, Atrial Fibrillation (also known as Afib) is an irregular heart beat that can present in many different ways. Some people don’t feel palpitations, but instead feel dizzy, weak or lightheaded. And still others feel nothing at all. So why should you care?  

Atrial fibrillation is the most common abnormal heart rhythm that affects almost 3 million people in the United States. and can be found in nearly 10 percent of all people over the age of 65. Besides the symptoms which can be bothersome, atrial fibrillation is a leading cause of stroke and can even result in heart failure if left untreated. So in short, what might seem like a minor nuisance actually has profound implications for your health. 

Anyone is at risk for developing atrial fibrillation. Factors such as sleep apnea, diabetes, abnormal thyroid function, excessive alcohol use, uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart valve issues and advanced age, can put you at an even greater risk for developing this irregular heart rhythm. 

If you believe you might be at a higher risk for developing this heart rhythm, or if you believe that you are already experiencing symptoms, you should make an appointment with your regular doctor to discuss your concerns today. The diagnosis is made by recording the heart electrical tracing during one of the episodes. After the diagnosis is made there are many treatment options to address symptoms and lower the risk of future stroke and heart failure. If you have been previously diagnosed with Afib, make sure to see your primary care doctor, or cardiologist, to discuss the best treatment plan for you. 

Treatments include, but are not limited to, prescription medications that reduce the risk of developing stroke, regulate the heartbeat and relieve symptoms, as well as procedures to restore the rhythm back to normal. 

What was once seen as a minor issue by the medical community is now noted to be a huge factor in health, wellness, and health care costs in the U.S. Don’t let an irregular heartbeat stop you from enjoying your life – talk to your regular doctor or a cardiologist about how you can reduce your risk for developing atrial fibrillation, or manage your irregular heart rhythm today!

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