The prevalence of atrial fibrillation, or AFib, in the United States is between 2.7 and 6.1 million, but experts predict that this number could rise to more than 12 million in the next decade. There are solutions for this fairly common heart rhythm problem, but left untreated, AFib can lead to some serious, and even life-threatening, cardiovascular problems.
At Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists, our team of cardiology experts understands the serious implications that can come with atrial fibrillation, and we provide a wide range of treatment options to help your heart beat more regularly.
The first step, however, is recognizing that there is a problem, which can be tricky with AFib. Here’s a look at what happens when you have atrial fibrillation and how to spot this common arrhythmia.
Before we get into spotting the signs of AFib, let’s take a quick look at what happens in your heart when you develop this rhythm problem.
AFib is the most common type of arrhythmia, and it occurs when the electrical system that controls your heartbeat malfunctions and leads to blood flow problems in the upper chambers of your heart, or your atria. Under normal circumstances, the muscles in the four chambers of your heart — your upper atria and your lower ventricles — contract in a coordinated way so that blood travels from your atria to your ventricles, where it’s circulated to your body.
When your heart’s electrical system isn’t working properly, your atria may contract chaotically or or too quickly, and the blood may not be exiting your upper chambers completely, which can lead to serious heart issues.
Identifying the warning signs of AFib
One of the challenges of AFIB is that you may not experience any symptoms and only a full examination by one of our cardiology experts can reveal the problem. That said, there are certain hallmarks of the condition, which include:
- A fluttering sensation in your chest
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- An irregular or racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive sweating
These symptoms may come and go and be more pronounced after exerting yourself. In some cases, you may experience these symptoms for several days, and then they disappear while in other cases the symptoms may be a constant companion.
However any of these symptoms present themselves, it’s important that you seek our help so that we can identify the problem and take the necessary steps to safeguard your heart health.
Please note that should any of these symptoms come on suddenly and include chest pain or tightness, you should call 9-1-1 immediately.
When it comes to treating your AFIb, we have a wide range of solutions depending upon the extent of your arrhythmia. With milder AFib, we can tackle the problem with medications like blood thinners. If your AFib persists, however, we may try more aggressive solutions, such as:
- Catheter ablation
- Electrical cardioversion
- Installing a pacemaker
The first step in addressing your AFib is an easy one — simply contact one of our three locations in Watsonville, Mountain View, or Monterey, California, so that we can perform a potentially life-saving exam.