What is Atrial Fibrillation?

hands holding heart with EKG waves

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February is American Heart Month, the time to raise awareness for heart disease.  In that spirit, let’s talk about atrial fibrillation, or AFib.

AFib is an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, that affects at least 2.7 million Americans. It’s a condition that can lead to stroke, heart failure, and other complications.

According to the American Heart Association, untreated atrial fibrillation could double the risk of heart-related deaths. At the same time, less than half of AFib patients believe they are at increased risk for heart-related hospitalizations or death.

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

It’s important to take AFib seriously by recognizing the symptoms and getting treatment immediately. The most common symptom is a quivering or fluttering heartbeat, but there are other symptoms to be aware of, including:

  • General Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Faintness or confusion

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing AFib involves a thorough examination by your doctor. You may need to take an EKG.

Treatment will depend on the type of AFib you have and the underlying cause. Some cases of atrial fibrillation are caused by another primary condition, such as a thyroid condition, and treating it will resolve the AFib as well.

Some medication may be prescribed to slow your heart rate and help with other symptoms. Other medications may be necessary to prevent strokes.

If you think you or your loved one might have AFib, speak with your doctor right away. Atrial Fibrillation, as common as it is, is a major heart condition that should be monitored and treated as soon as possible.

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