Atrial Fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to stroke and other heart-related complications. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles.
If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results. About 15-20 percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia. This clot risk is why patients with this condition are put on blood thinners.
Even though untreated atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of heart-related deaths and is associated with a 5-fold increased risk for stroke, many patients are unaware that AFib is a serious condition.
Any person, ranging from children to adults, can develop atrial fibrillation. Because the likelihood of AFib increases with age and people are living longer today, medical researchers predict the number of AFib cases will rise dramatically over the next few years.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of irregular heartbeat. The abnormal firing of electrical impulses causes the atria (the top chambers in the heart) to quiver (or fibrillate). Sometimes people with AFib have no symptoms and their condition is only detectable upon physical examination. Still, others may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
*chest pain or pressure is a medical emergency. You may be having a heart attack. Call 9-1-1 immediately
The treatment goals of atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) start with a proper diagnosis through an in-depth examination from a physician. The exam usually includes questions about your history and often an EKG or ECG. Some patients may need a thorough electrophysiology study.
The severity, any other underlying medical issues you might have, and the length of the AF condition will determine the best treatment options for you. In addition to knowing your goals, you will want to discuss your treatment options and take an active role in your plan.
Medications are often prescribed to prevent and treat blood clots which can lead to a stroke. Additional drugs may be prescribed to control heart rate and rhythm in the AFib patient. These medications may also be used in conjunction with other treatments. Medication options may include blood thinners, rate controllers, and rhythm controllers.
St. Vincent performs one-time minimally invasive left atrial appendage closure procedure that reduces the risk of a stroke in non-valvular atrial fibrillation patients.
Talk to your doctor to see if you qualify for the procedure.