At least 2.7 million people in the US are living with atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is the most common type of heart arrhythmia. Most any problem that develops in your heart has the potential to be life-threatening, and this is certainly true of AFib. That said, with early detection and vigilant oversight, AFib can be managed.
To give you an idea about the risks with AFib, the team of heart health experts here at Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists pulled together the following information.
Under normal circumstances, the four chambers in your heart beat in a coordinated rhythm so that blood can flow into your heart, pick up oxygen, and then flow back out to the rest of your body. Your blood first enters your right atrium (the upper chamber) and then flows through your right ventricle and into your lungs for oxygen. From there, the blood flows into your left atrium and then down into your left ventricle where it’s pumped out to the rest of your body.
This seemingly complex process occurs about 60-100 times per minute and a whopping 100,000 times per day.
With AFib, your upper atria don’t maintain a good pumping rhythm, and they quiver instead of beat, which affects how blood flows through your heart.
The complications of AFib
Unfortunately, the American Heart Association reports that only one-third of those with AFib consider it to be a serious condition despite the fact that it has great potential to be serious. Even more alarming is that the CDC reports that the incidence of AFib in the US will rise to more than 12 million by 2030.
The primary reason for alarm is that having AFib doubles your risks for a heart-related death, and the first threat is a stroke. Approximately 15-20% of people who have strokes also have AFib. As a result of AFib, you’re more at risk for developing a blood clot, which can break away and travel through the main artery leading to your brain. When this occurs, the clot can block blood and oxygen to your brain, which is a stroke.
Another life-threatening issue that can develop because of AFib is congestive heart failure. When you have AFib, your heart isn’t pumping enough blood or it isn’t pumping the blood efficiently, which can, over time, lead to heart failure.
Avoiding AFib-related problems
The most important step when you have AFib is to get the right cardiovascular team in your corner, such as the one here at our practice. We can monitor your heart health and provide you with the best management plan, which may include:
- Medications, such as blood thinners
- Procedures, such as a catheter ablation
- A pacemaker to regulate your heart’s rhythm
In addition to these treatments, we also recommend lifestyle changes, such as improvements in diet and exercise, that can go a long way toward preserving your heart health.
If you want to avoid the unthinkable when you have AFib, contact our Mountain View, California, office for expert treatment and oversight.