Understanding A-Fib

September is National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month–take this time to educate yourself on this condition and your risks.

What is atrial fibrillation? Atrial fibrillation, sometimes referred to as A-fib, is a type of cardiac arrhythmia, or abnormality in the heart rhythm. A-fib is related to a malfunction of the heart's electrical system and can be a potentially life-threatening condition. Learn more about A-fib and your risks:

Risk Factors for A-Fib
Certain factors may put you at a great risk of developing a-fib.

  • Heart Disease–Having heart disease alone puts you at an increased risk for A-fib.
  • High Blood Pressure–If you have high blood pressure that is not controlled with lifestyle changes or medication, you may be at an increased risk for A-fib.
  • Age–As you get older, your risk for A-fib increases.
  • Family History–An increased risk for A-fib may run in some families.
  • Drinking Alcohol–In some individuals, drinking alcohol may trigger an A-fib episode and binge drinking may put you at higher risk for A-fib.
  • Other Chronic Conditions–Conditions such as thyroid disease and diabetes can increase your risk for A-fib

Symptoms of A-Fib
Symptoms can vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the case.

  • Rapid pulse or heart rate, often felt as a "fluttering" or racing feeling in the chest
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Weakness/fatigue

Diagnosing & Treating A-Fib
Your doctor will perform a physical exam, listen to your heart with a stethoscope and may perform one or more tests including ECG, echocardiogram, blood tests, and chest X-rays. Treatment varies based on the severity of A-fib, but the goal of treatment is to reset the rhythm or control the heart rate and prevent blood clots from forming. This can be achieved through medication, electrical cardioversion, and surgical procedures if necessary.

Want to learn more about atrial fibrillation? Visit our online Health Library today. To learn about our services and capabilities at the Heart Institute at Oak Hill Hospital, visit us online or give us a call at 352-596-6632 in Hernando or 352-628-6441 in Citrus.

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