Afib is a progressive condition that causes the upper chambers of the heart, or atria, to beat rapidly, in an uncontrolled manner. This affects blood flow to the rest of the body and increases the risk of a blood clot, which could possibly result in a stroke. It also commonly increases heart rate, causing palpitations and other symptoms. Afib is a common heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia), impacting an estimated 3 million people in the country.
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Q: When should I see a doctor?
A: If you notice any symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or a racing or irregular heartbeat, it’s important to see an experienced physician for a complete examination. A number of tests are used to confirm an Afib diagnosis, and the goal is to regain a normal heart rhythm, control the heart rate, prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke.
If treated early and properly, it is possible for people with Afib to live normal, healthy, and long lives. However, if Afib is left untreated or treated incompletely, other health issues can occur. Stroke and congestive heart failure are the most significant and detrimental consequences of Atrial fibrillation. Other risks associated with untreated Afib include chronic fatigue, enlarged heart, and cardiomyopathy.
The most important step you can take toward managing your Afib is to be proactive and informed about your condition and options available for treatment. The sooner you receive appropriate treatment, the higher the success rate.