Eight Things to be Aware of With Atrial Fibrillation
Four Types of A-Fib:
Not everyone experiences A-Fib symptoms.
If you do, here are eight Warnings of Common Signs and Symproms of Atrial Fibrillation to look out for:
- Sensations of a fast, fluttering or pounding heartbeat or palpitations
- Chest pain
- Shortness of Breath
- Reduced ability to exercise
What is Atrial Fibrillation?
Warning, common signs and symptoms of atrial-fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is an irregular and often very rapid heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots in the heart. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s upper chambers (the atria) beat chaotically and irregularly — out of sync with the lower chambers (the ventricles) of the heart. The above-mentioned Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms and Signs are common with A-Fib.
What Are your Chances of Stroke with A-Fib?
Patients with A-Fib have a 5-fold increased risk of stroke. This risk factor increases with age:
1.5% at ages 50-59 to 23.5% at age 80-89. Since Atrial Fibrillation is often asymptomatic and may go clinically undetected, the stroke risk attributed to A-Fib may be substantially underestimated.
For many people, Atrial Fibrillation may have no symptoms.
However, A-Fib may cause a fast, pounding heartbeat (palpitations), shortness of breath or weakness.
Treatment for atrial fibrillation may include medications, therapy to reset the heart rhythm and catheter procedures to block faulty heart signals. The heart rate may range from 100 to 175 beats per minute. The normal range is 60 to 100 beats per minute.
There are Four Different Arrhythmias
Occasional– (paroxysmal atrial fibrillation). A-Fib symptoms come and go, usually lasting for a few minutes to hours and sometimes days. If they don’t go away after 7 days, you should seek help from your doctor.
Persistent- With this type of A-Fib, the heart rhythm doesn’t go back to normal on its own. If a person has A-Fib symptoms, cardioversion or treatment with medications may be used to restore and maintain a normal heart rhythm.
Long Standing Persistent- This type of Atrial Fibrillation is continuous and lasts longer than 12 months.
Permanent- In this type of A-Fib, the irregular heart rhythm can’t be restored. Medications are needed to control the heart rate and to prevent blood clots.
When to see a doctor
If you have any symptoms or signs of atrial fibrillation, make an appointment with your doctor.
If you have chest pain, seek immediate medical help. Chest pain could mean that you’re having a heart attack.
Risk Factors (Signs of A-Fib)
- Age- The older a person is, the greater the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
- Heart disease- Anyone with heart disease — such as heart valve problems, congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, or a history of heart attack or heart surgery — has an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.
- High blood pressure- Having high blood pressure, especially if its not well controlled with lifestyle changes or medications, can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation.
- Thyroid disease- In some people, thyroid problems may trigger heart rhythm problems (arrhythmia), including atrial fibrillation.
- Other chronic health conditions- People with certain chronic conditions such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, chronic kidney disease, lung disease or sleep apnea have an increased risk of atrial fibrillation.
- Drinking alcohol- For some people, drinking alcohol can trigger an episode of atrial fibrillation. Binge drinking further increases the risk.
- Obesity. People who have obesity are at higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
- Family history- An increased risk of atrial fibrillation occurs in some families.
Signs of Concern
Blood clots are a dangerous complication of atrial fibrillation that can lead to stroke
The chaotic rhythm can cause blood to collect in the heart’s upper chambers (called the atria) and form clots. If a blood clot in the left upper chamber breaks free from the heart, it can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
The risk of stroke increases as you age. Other conditions may also increase your risk of a stroke due to A-Fib, including:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Failure
- Some valvular heart disease
Blood Thinners are commonly prescribed to prevent blood clots and stroke in people with A-Fib.
Prevention May Be Possible
Healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of heart disease and may prevent atrial fibrillation. Here are some basic heart-healthy tips:
- Eat a nutritious diet
- Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine
- Manage stress, as intense stress and anger can cause heart rhythm problems
Women have a higher Risk of getting Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial Fibrillation is associated with obesity in women
Some evidence suggests that women have a significantly higher risk of bleeding from anticoagulation. Reluctance among physicians and patients to use warfarin may be especially problematic in elderly women, who benefit from it the most.
Prevention and Risk Reduction
Although no one is able to absolutely guarantee that a stroke or a clot can be preventable, there are ways to reduce risks for developing these problems.
So, You’ve Been Diagnosed. Ideal Goals Include:
- Restoring the heart to a normal rhythm (called rhythm control)
- Reducing an overly high heart rate (called rate control)
- Preventing blood clots (called prevention of thromboembolism such as stroke)
- Managing risk factors for stroke
- Preventing additional heart rhythm problems
- Preventing heart failure
Doctors can use a variety of different medications to help control the heart rate during atrial fibrillation
The medications such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, work on the AV node. They slow the heart rate and may help improve symptoms. However, they don’t cure the rhythm abnormality and still require medication to prevent strokes while remaining in atrial fibrillation.
Stroke, TIA And Warning Signs
Stroke occurs when a blood vessel bringing blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this happens, brain cells don’t get the blood and oxygen that they need to survive. This causes nerve cells to stop working and die within minutes.
Then, the part of the body they control are affected. The effects of stroke may be permanent depending on how many cells die, where they are in the brain, and other factors. Strokes can cause weakness (paralysis), affect language and vision, and cause other problems. Stroke is the number 5 cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in America.
What is a TIA?
TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is a “warning” stroke that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a short time. The symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of a stroke, but they usually last only a few minutes. About 12% of all strokes are preceded by TIA’S, so don’t ignore a TIA. Call 911 or seek emergency medical attention immediately!
Is stroke preventable?
Yes! Stroke is largely preventable. You can reduce your stroke risk by living a healthy lifestyle. You can do this by controlling high blood pressure, not smoking, eating a healthy diet low in saturated fats, being physically active, maintaining a healthy body weight, managing diabetes and drinking alcohol moderately or not at all.
Can a stroke be treated?
If you’re having a stroke, time is critical. Immediate treatment may reduce the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death. Treatment will vary depending on what type of stroke you had.
A Clot Busting Drug
There is a clot-busting drug called alteplase (IVr-tPS) used to treat ischemic stroke. It can reduce disability from stroke by breaking up a blood clot that might be stopping the blood flow to the brain. To be eligible to receive alteplase, a doctor must diagnose your stroke as an ischemic stroke and treat you within 3 to 4.5 hours of onset of stroke symptoms. The sooner it is given, the greater the possibility of a better outcome.
Another treatment option is called a mechanical thrombectomy. In eligible patients with large clots in an artery, the procedure should be sone as soon as possible within up to 24 hours of a stroke symptom. Patients eligible for alteplase should receive it prior to undergoing mechanical thrombectomy.
In this procedure, specially trained doctors try to remove the blood clot by using a wire cage device called a stent retriever. To remove the clot, doctors thread a catheter (thin tube0 with a stent through an artery in the groin up to the blocked artery in the brain. The stent opens and grabs the clot. The doctors then remove the stent with the trapped clot.
Technology is moving so fast in the heart treatments and devices, it’s mind-blowing to me. Hi, I’m Sherry, Author of this website and I hope you enjoyed reading this article.
As you may know, I too have Atrial Fibrillation and was diagnosed too late to turn it around. I ended up with a pacemaker at 59 years old. My articles are usually about A-Fib, finding the newest device to detect A-Fib early on such as scan watches, KardiaMobile, Emay etc… there’s many products that detect A-Fib symptoms.
I could go on but I’m going to sign off for now, please feel free to leave a comment or question below. If you’d like to visit my other website for more information about A-Fib, please go to my-heart-health.com
Wishing you well,