The complete term for afib is atrial fibrillation and it occurs when the heart is unable to adequately pump the blood that flows through the chambers. It requires a medical diagnosis, so make an appointment with your healthcare professional to confirm if you have afib.
Many people have Afib but are unaware of it. They attribute it to being physically out of shape or not feeling well. Between 15 to 30 percent of people have afib but don't have any symptoms. How do you know if you have afib?
Often, afib will present asymptomatically, so an individual may have it but be unaware of it. Those who have symptoms may experience any or all of the following:
The presence of any or all of these symptoms doesn't confirm the presence of afib, but they should be checked. Those who experience any or all of these should probably make an appointment with their medical professional.
There are several diagnostic tools available for afib but the methods used will typically depend on the answers to the doctor's questions since other issues can mimic the signs of afib. Common diagnostic tests include:
The type of afib treatment an individual receives will depend on the type of afib they have. The goals of any treatment protocol are to reset or control the heart rhythm and rate, and to prevent blood clots that may precipitate a stroke. Treatment protocols include prescription medications, therapy, catheterization, or surgery.
Cardioversion therapy can be performed mechanically or through medication in an IV or pill form. Electrical cardioversion sends electrical shocks to the heart so that the heart rhythm will be reset. The IV method uses drugs to accomplish the same objective. Cardioversion is considered an inpatient procedure and is usually in a hospital. It's also sometimes performed as an emergency procedure. Subsequent to cardioversion, the patient is on lifelong anti-arrhythmic medication, and there's no guarantee that afib won't return.
Cardiac ablation: Cardiac ablation uses heat or extreme cold to scar the heart muscle and restore a normal heartbeat. This technique is also occasionally used during open-heart surgery. There are several types of cardiac ablation, and the doctor will determine the best type for the individual, depending on their unique circumstances. This procedure isn't always effective, and afib may return. Those who have cardiac ablation will need to take blood thinners for life.
Although anyone can develop afib at any time, there are lifestyle habits that can help maintain a healthy heart such as:
Although there's no guarantee that afib won't develop, taking precautions such as the above can reduce the likelihood of its occurrence.