Atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, is a condition in which the heart beats erratically, often too fast. Over 2 million Americans are living with this condition, which often feels like the heart is quivering, thumping, or skipping in the chest.
Despite its high occurrence, many people don’t know much about a-fib. Experts predict the incidence of a-fib will continue to increase in the years to come, simply because people are living longer and your risk increases with age. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, read on to learn the basics of this condition and what can be done to avoid complications.
- A-fib occurs when the two upper chambers of the heart do not beat in correct sync with the two lower chambers. The result is an irregular, and usually rapid, heartbeat that does not pump blood efficiently throughout the body.
- Symptoms of a-fib can vary widely, and may include fatigue, feeling faint or dizzy, weakness, or feeling a fluttering or thumping in your chest. Some people have no symptoms at all, and aren’t aware that they have a-fib. Seeing your physician for regular checkups and well visits can help detect a-fib in people who have no symptoms.
- It can be caused by heart disease or high blood pressure – but this is not always the case. Even young, healthy athletes can get a-fib. You have a higher risk of getting a-fib as you age, if you’ve head heart surgery, and if you have other health conditions such as thyroid problems, diabetes, asthma, and sleep apnea. It can also run in families.
- Many people think a-fib isn’t serious, but in fact, it is dangerous. Having a-fib puts you at a higher risk for stroke, heart failure, and other heart problems. If you have a-fib, even if the symptoms don’t bother you, you need to see your cardiologist regularly and follow his or her treatment plan to help reduce your risk of serious complications.
- Following a heart-healthy lifestyle can help prevent a-fib in many people. This includes not smoking, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. Alcohol consumption may also play a role in a-fib, so many people at risk are advised to avoid or strictly limit the amount of alcohol they drink.
Cardiovascular Care at CarePoint Health
The Cardiovascular Departments at Bayonne Medical Center, Christ Hospital, and Hoboken University Medical Center offer comprehensive, state-of-the-art care for a wide range of heart conditions. Having an expert cardiologist on your side can help you manage your heart health before emergencies occur, giving you the best chance to lead a happy, healthy life.
For more information about our cardiovascular care, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.