Heart palpitations? Shortness of breath? You could have AFib.

image depicting stethoscope and a heartAtrial Fibrillation, also known as AFib, is associated with a rapid and irregular heart beat. It occurs when the top chambers of the heart lose their regular contraction and beat rapidly and out of coordination with the bottom chambers (ventricles). It is the most common type of arrhythmia and may increase risk of blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.  Typically, a normal resting heart rate doesn’t exceed 100 beats per minute. For those with AFib, their heartbeat may be quite rapid and irregular.

AFib does not always present with symptoms and many people do not know they have it. Those who do can experience one or more of the following:

  • Feeling faint
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 3 million people in the U.S. have AFib, and it affects more than 9 percent of people aged 65 years and older.

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Why Is It Dangerous?

AFib can cause blood to pool in the heart’s left atrial appendage, which can create clots. Those clots can travel through the bloodstream, blocking the flow of blood to the brain and causing a stroke. A neurological workup can determine the cause.

When a person has heart palpitations, an electrocardiogram (EKG) is usually done, and the patient may wear a heart monitor to record heart activity for a period of several days. But even with these tests, abnormal rhythms may not be detected because they come and go. For some patients, small implantable devices may be used to find infrequent episodes, or they may be advised to use an wearable monitor.

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Are you or someone you know having symptoms? Please contact our referral service at 888-4GW-DOCS to make an appointment with our cardiac team for an assessment.

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Causes and Treatment for AFib

As people age, certain health conditions can put them at risk for AFib, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, sleep apnea, heart failure and smoking. Once detected, medication is often a first-line treatment option. Depending on the severity of symptoms, cardiac ablation, a minimally invasive catheter based procedure, can be performed and is highly effective. In rare circumstances a pacemaker may be helpful.

Advanced Cardiac Services, Close to Home

If you or a loved one has a personal or family history of cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease, has suffered a heart attack, or has a heart failure diagnosis, we can help. Our highly trained staff and physicians provide patients with an individualized approach to heart care, including assessment, diagnosis, planning, intervention and evaluation. They also help coordinate multidisciplinary care to help put patients back on the road to recovery.