From Memorial Health System
The human heart normally pumps a strong and steady beat – more than 100,000 heartbeats each day. However, if you’re suffering from atrial fibrillation, the heart doesn’t always beat or keep pace as it should.
Most people suffering from this condition say they can feel their heart racing, fluttering or skipping beats. AFib is a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat that causes the heart to beat quickly or irregularly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict that 12.1 million people in the U.S. will have AFib by 2030. September is AFib Awareness Month, which is an ideal time to focus on the signs of this disease, as well as treatment options.
Memorial cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Ronald Jones, Memorial cardiac electrophysiologist Dr. Sam Owen and Memorial nurse practitioner Catherine Martinez share all the AFib facts you need to know.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF AFIB?
- Heart palpitations
- Unexplained shortness of breath
- Dizziness or fainting spells
- Chest pain (angina)
AFIB IS MORE LIKELY TO OCCUR IN PATIENTS WHO:
- Are older (although it can happen at any age).
- Have hypertension, heart disease, valve disease, heart failure or have had a previous heart surgery.
- Have obesity, sleep apnea or hyperthyroidism.
- Have a family history of AFib.
- Drink too much alcohol.
CAN SOMEONE PREVENT AFIB? IF SO, HOW?
Lifestyle modifications can help patients manage their AFib, including:
- Following a heart-healthy diet
- Limiting alcohol
- Regular exercise
- Not smoking
- Taking medication as prescribed
- Treating sleep apnea
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
- Lifestyle modifications
- Medications, including those for rate control, rhythm control and stroke prevention
- Cardioversion (a medical procedure that uses quick, low-energy shocks to restore a regular heart rhythm)
- Catheter ablation
- WATCHMAN FLX Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC) Device
CAN SOMEONE STILL HAVE A QUALITY OF LIFE WITH AFIB?
Yes! Tips to help you improve your quality of life with AFib include:
- Talk with your doctor about how AFib is affecting your life.
- Take medications as prescribed.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet.
- If you’re overweight, lose weight.
- Find an exercise routine that is best for you.
- Manage your stress.
- Seek support from family and friends.
AFib, if untreated, can lead to a stroke and other serious medical complications. That’s why it’s important to learn the symptoms and talk with your healthcare provider about your personal risk factors. If you think you may be suffering from AFib, call your healthcare provider immediately to discuss how you’re feeling.
Memorial offers both primary care services and virtual visits. Learn more by visiting wearememorial.com or by calling (228) 867-5000. Article by Dr. Sam Owen, Dr. Ronald Jones, and Catherine Martinez, NP.