We hear medical terminology thrown around so much in our everyday lives that it’s easy to think you know what it means. You can pick up medical lingo by watching ER or Grey’s Anatomy or even just by overhearing commercials during your favorite television show or podcast. One term you may have heard but likely do not understand is A-fib which stands for Atrial Fibrillation.
So, whether you’re a curious fan of medical dramas or just interested in learning more about your heart health, we’ve curated some common A-fib questions to help you better understand this condition.
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Let’s start with the basics. Atrial Fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat that can cause blood clots, stroke, or other forms of heart disease. Your heart has four chambers. The top two are the right and left atria, and the bottom two are the right and left ventricles. During A-fib, the upper chambers of the heart, which should pump in tandem, pump out of sync, causing irregular blood flow to the ventricles. Atrial Fibrillation is one of the most common types of arrhythmia, and it is estimated that millions in the United States suffer from this condition.
What are some of the common symptoms of A-fib?
While some patients experience A-fib with little to no symptoms, most patients experience at least one of the following: irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, fatigue, shortness of breath, or chest pain. If you know anything about heart health, you’ll find that these symptoms sound familiar, as they are commonly associated with other cardiovascular disorders. Regardless if you’ve been diagnosed with A-fib, symptoms like these are concerning and warrant a visit with your cardiologist.
Is Atrial Fibrillation genetic?
Like many heart conditions, atrial Fibrillation can be genetic. In this case, it is referred to as familial atrial Fibrillation. It’s always wise, if you are able, to share your family’s medical history with your cardiologist so they may have an accurate understanding of your heart health and your risk for certain conditions.
What are the common risk factors for A-fib?
Besides the genetic risks posed to some patients, other A-fib risk factors are common risk factors for other heart conditions. Obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heavy alcohol use are just a few of the common lifestyle-related risk factors that may lead patients toward an A-fib diagnosis. Some patients may also present an increased risk if they have been diagnosed with heart valve disease. Thankfully, many of the risk factors listed above can be mitigated with simple diet and lifestyle changes. Feel free to peruse our blog for more information about how to begin living a heart-healthy lifestyle.
What is the treatment for A-fib?
Every patient who walks through our doors is unique and therefore, we formulate a unique treatment plan for them. Your doctor will advise you on the ideal treatment for your specific situation. That said, common treatments for A-fib include cardioversion therapy which uses low-energy electric shocks to reset the heart rhythm, medications, and surgeries like Atrial Fibrillation Ablation.
Thanks to the power of the media, more people are familiar with terms like A-fib and have seen examples of people experiencing cardiac distress on television and in movies. We want to further educate our community to empower you with enough information to advocate for yourself. Atrial Fibrillation is a serious condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with it or suspect you have it, we urge you to maintain a good relationship with your healthcare provider to ensure that your condition is stable. Contact us today if you have any questions about this condition or would like to seek treatment from a member of our team.