Have you heard of AFib? This is a medical term that may be unfamiliar to you, but it represents a very serious condition that could affect your heart health. AFib stands for atrial fibrillation, a glitch in the electrical system of your heart that makes the atria beat so fast that they quiver. As a result, the ventricles of your heart beat out of sync. If you have AFib, it raises your risk of stroke and heart failure. Read on to learn more about AFib, including warning signs, causes, treatments, and what to do when it becomes an emergency.
So how do you know if you have AFib? According to WebMD, “the way to confirm AFib is with an electrocardiogram (EKG). The machine detects and records the electrical activity of your heart, so your doctor can see problems with its rhythm. You can do it in the doctor’s office, or you may need to wear a device that keeps track of your heart’s activity for a longer time to catch an episode.”
Until you are properly diagnosed, it can be helpful to learn about the condition and keep an eye out for warning signs. The following information will help you increase your awareness of this condition and look for signals that it’s time to see a doctor.
An uneven pulse
A racing or pounding heart
A feeling that your heart is fluttering
Feeling short of breath
When your heart is in AFib, you may feel:
Dizzy or faint
Weak and fatigued
When It’s an Emergency
You should call 911 if you have:
Severe chest pain
Uneven pulse and feel faint
Signs of a stroke, such as numbness or slurred speech
What Causes It?
High blood pressure
Coronary artery disease and heart attacks
Problems with heart valves
Who Gets AFib?
Your chances of having the condition are higher if:
You are male and white.
You are over 60.
A close family member had or has it.
Triggers You Can Control
Being overweight or obese
Drinking too much alcohol
Using stimulants, including some illegal drugs
Taking certain prescription drugs, such as albuterol
These heart healthy habits will protect you against AFib:
Eat a nutritious diet that includes fish.
Control your blood pressure.
Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke.
So what do you do if you have been diagnosed with AFib? Your doctor will make proper medical recommendations that could include medication. Medication treatment for AFib can range from a daily aspirin regimen to blood thinners to rate control medications that keep your heart from beating too fast. The doctor might also perform surgery, which can also vary in seriousness from a simple ablation to the placement of a pacemaker to open heart surgery.
The good news is that many people find that living with AFib has no effect on their daily lives. Some have symptoms such as weakness, shortness of breath, or fainting, and those individuals need to seek ongoing assistance from a health care professional. The most important thing to do if you are living with AFib is to check your pulse monthly to prevent stroke or other serious problems.
Do you or does someone you know have AFib? Share your thoughts, stories and opinions in the comments section.