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5 Things We Want You to Know About Atrial Fibrillation

5 Things We Want You to Know About Atrial Fibrillation

To call your heart “hard-working” is a bit of an understatement. An average heart beats 100,000 times per day, 35 million times per year, and 2.5 billion times over an average lifetime.

When you have an arrhythmia, your heart may not keep a steady rhythm, which can lead to a wide range of issues, some of them quite serious.

Since atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of arrhythmia — it’s projected to affect more than 12 million Americans by 2030Dr. Satjit Bhusri and the team here at Upper East Cardiology thought we’d spend some time reviewing this common heart rhythm issue in this month's blog post. 

1. AFib — a lack of coordination in the chambers of your heart

To kick off this discussion, let’s first take a look at what happens when you have AFib. Under normal circumstances, each of your heartbeats is initiated in your upper right atrium in your sinus node. When your sinus node fires, the upper chambers of your heart contract to keep blood flowing through your heart.

When you have AFib, the beating in your upper atria is irregular, which can lead to problems keeping the blood moving between chambers.

AFib can be episodic — you have bouts of abnormal heart rhythms — or it can be a permanent condition.

2. AFib doesn’t always cause symptoms

Some people with mild AFib don’t have any symptoms, and we only discover the arrhythmia during a cardiac exam. People with more serious AFib or distinct AFib episodes can experience:

People often report a bit of confusion during an AFib episode, which is normal if your heart is acting erratically.

3. Why we’re concerned about AFib

Now let’s get to the reason we devoted this blog to AFib — it’s associated with some serious, life-threatening complications. One of our bigger concerns is that that blood isn’t moving well through the chambers of your heart, which leaves you more vulnerable to blood clots and strokes — 15% to 20% of people who suffer strokes have AFib.

Outside of strokes, we’re also concerned about heart attacks when you have AFib.

4. Factors that place you at risk for AFib

There are many risk factors associated with AFib, including:

This list isn’t complete, but our goal is to illustrate that you do have some control over AFib if you do something about those risk factors that are reversible.

5. How we treat Afib

If we diagnose you with AFib, the first step is to address any of the risk factors that apply to you, such as quitting smoking, exercising more, or losing weight.

We may also place you on blood thinners to prevent a blood clot from forming. We can also prescribe medications that better regulate your heart’s rhythm.

If your AFib is severe or it doesn’t respond well enough to medications and lifestyle changes, we may recommend a more aggressive solution, such as an electrical cardioversion or a pacemaker.

But let’s take a step back and review your next step if you’re worried about AFib — you should set up an appointment with us so we can test your heart rate and come up with a personalized plan for managing your arrhythmia, if one exists.

For skilled diagnosis and treatment of AFib, please contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to schedule an appointment. You can also call us at (212) 752-3464.

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