A center of excellence that provides comprehensive management for atrial fibrillation patients.
What is Atrial fibrillation (AF)?
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common abnormal heart rhythm, affecting approximately 5 million people worldwide. If left untreated atrial fibrillation may lead to stroke, heart failure, and a decrease in quality of life.
Normally the heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat, enabling blood to be efficiently pumped through the body. When a patient suffers from atrial fibrillation there is an abnormality in the hearts normal electrical system; impulses are initiated in a chaotic and irregular manner in the atria (upper chambers of the heart). These chaotic impulses prevent the heart from functioning properly, which can decrease the heart’s pumping efficiency by as much to 20-30%. Because blood is not being pumped efficiently, blood can pool in the atria (upper chambers of the heart), causing a blood clot to form that may lead to a stroke.
How do I know if I have atrial fibrillation?
Some of the symptoms you may experience with atrial fibrillation are:
- Irregular and rapid heartbeat
- Heart palpitations (thumping, fluttering, or racing feeling in the chest)
- Dizziness, lightheadedness
- Chest discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of energy, feeling tired.
Symptoms of atrial fibrillation such as fatigue or lack of energy can often be hard to discern. It is important if you’re having these symptoms to notify your healthcare provider for further evaluation.
How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?
A reliable way to diagnose atrial fibrillation is on an ECG. An ECG is done by placing 10 electrodes on the patient’s chest and limbs. These electrodes provide a recording of the hearts electrical activity. Sometimes atrial fibrillation may not be present at time of the ECG, so a healthcare provider may have you wear a portable heart monitor to record the hearts electrical signals for a longer period of time.
What causes atrial fibrillation?
Although all the exact causes of atrial fibrillation are unknown, there are multiple risk factors that can contribute to its onset. Some of these risk factors include: high blood pressure, heart failure, heart valve disease, hyperthyroidism, sleep apnea, smoking, and genetic predisposition. The risk of developing atrial fibrillation increases with advancing age with approximately 1 out of every 10 adults over the age of 80 being affected.
How is atrial fibrillation treated?
There are numerous treatment options available for atrial fibrillation including: lifestyle modification, medications, and advanced medical procedures. Our atrial fibrillation treatment team is available to help you find an individualized treatment plan that works best for you.