An estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation (AF). That makes it the most common heart rhythm abnormality in the U.S. The good news is that A-Fib can be treated and controlled with help from your doctor. If you’ve been diagnosed with A-Fib, careful management can help reduce your risk of major health problems.
With A-Fib, your heart’s electrical impulses lose their regular rhythm. When someone is in A-Fib, they have an irregular heartbeat. During A-Fib, the impulses are very rapid (more than 300 beats per minute) and uneven. This means blood is not pumped the way it should be. A-Fib itself usually isn’t life-threatening, but it can lead to other serious problems. These include chronic fatigue, congestive heart failure and stroke.
What Causes A-Fib?
Often, the cause of A-Fib is unknown. But certain factors can make you more likely to develop it. A-Fib often affects people who have coronary heart disease or who’ve had a heart attack.
Other conditions that may increase your chances of A-Fib are:
- High blood pressure
- Recent heart surgery
- Valvular heart disease (affecting one or more of the valves)
- Inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or lining of the heart (pericarditis)
- Congenital heart defect (one present at birth)
- Overactive thyroid gland
- Acute or chronic lung disease
Older people are more likely to have Fib than younger people. In fact, risk increases with age. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart arrhythmia in persons over the age of 65. Diabetes, excessive alcohol use and stimulant drug use are other factors that increase your risk.
To restore and maintain normal rhythm, your doctor may recommend using medication. Another treatment option, Cardioversion, is a procedure that sends an electrical signal to the heart to correct the electrical impulses. There are also minimally invasive surgical procedures, known as Catheter Ablation. Your doctor can discuss the best treatment option for you.
Dr. James G. Porterfield
Dr. Rajesh Kabra
Dr. Sunil K. Jha,
Dr. Yehoshua (Shu) Levine