What is A-Fib
Atrial fibrillation, or A-Fib, is the most common heart rhythm disorder in the U.S. About 2.5 million Americans currently have it. About 160,000 new cases of A-Fib are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, but doctors believe many people who have A-Fib have not been diagnosed.
A-Fib is an irregular heartbeat in the top chambers of the heart. Normally, an electrical signal controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. In A-Fib, an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system causes the top 2 chambers of the heart (called the atria) to beat fast and irregular. The beating is so fast the atria “quiver” instead of squeezing. When the atria quiver, they can’t pump as much blood into the lower chambers as they normally do. Some blood stays in the atria and pools, and can form clots. A-Fib can also make the heart rate (or pulse) be too fast.
The likelihood of developing A-Fib increases with age. The majority of people diagnosed with A-Fib are 55 or older. Between 3 - 5% of people over age 65 and 9% of people over the age of 80 have A-Fib.
A-Fib is a “nuisance” rhythm – it is not life threatening. A-Fib is not an emergency – but it is a serious condition. Diagnosing and treating A-Fib are important because, if left untreated, it can lead to future problems. Patients with A-Fib are 5 to 7 times more likely to have a stroke. Also, by causing the heart to beat fast, A-Fib can weaken the heart’s overall pumping ability which can lead to heart failure.
The signs and symptoms of A-Fib can vary greatly from person to person. Some people experience a sudden heart flutter or tremor, or feel their heart “speed up” suddenly; other people with A-Fib may not feel anything at all. Other symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of energy
- Chest pain
- Feeling nervous, restless or agitated
If you suspect you have A-Fib you should see your doctor immediately. Or make an appointment to see an A-Fib specialist at Central Baptist’s Center for Atrial Fibrillation & Heart Rhythm Disorders. We can discuss the many options available to treat and sometimes cure A-Fib – and help choose the option that’s right for you. 859-260-2342 (AFIB).