AFib: Beating to the Rhythm of Your Own Heart
Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a heart condition that can cause blood clots, heart failure, stroke and other complications, and it affects more than two million Americans. However, many people don’t know about the seriousness of AFib. If untreated, AFib “doubles the risk of heart-related deaths and is associated with a five-fold increase risk for stroke,” according to the American Heart Association.
Symptoms may include “thumping” or fluttering in your chest, an irregular and rapid heartbeat, dizziness, weakness, anxiety and shortness of breath, fatigue when you’re exercising, and confusion. The irregular beating can cause abnormal blood flow, and this can lead to the development of a blood clot. If the clot is pumped out of the heart, it can travel to the brain and result in a stroke. The American Heart Association recommends a heart-healthy lifestyle as the best way to reduce your risk for the onset of AFib. This includes:
- Managing high blood pressure
- Participating in regular physical activities
- Eating a heart-healthy diet (low in saturated fats, salt, cholesterol and trans fats)
- Not smoking
- Controlling your cholesterol
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Avoiding excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol
If you’ve been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, it’s important that you take the medications your doctor has prescribed, and receive the proper treatment to manage your condition. The American Heart Association notes that treating AFib is critical for preventing and reducing your risk for stroke. Treatment largely will depend on the severity of your condition and its underlying cause.
Consult your health care provider for more information about reducing your risk for AFib. If you need a cardiac electrophysiologist or other cardiac specialist, call BayCare at (855) 233-0888 for a physician referral, or fill out the form to request a referral to a cardiac specialist.