What Is Your Heart Saying: Atrial Fibrillation


By: Delray Medical Center Special to the Boca and Delray newspaper
Bang, bang, bang! If you experience your heart banging against your chest or skipping beats you’re most likely experiencing arrhythmia. Arrhythmia is an irregular rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, where your heart can beat too fast or slow. This is a type of atrial fibrillation (AFib), when disorganized electrical signals cause the heart’s two upper chambers to fibrillate or contract very fast. Millions of Americans are affected by this disease and the number increases each year.
Men are more likely to experience this condition than women. It’s also more common among whites than any other race. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, lung disease, drinking large amounts of alcohol and sleep apnea.
Symptoms include palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion, sweating, fatigue and weakness when exercising. There are different types AFib classifications and all of them increase your risk of stroke.
Sometimes AFib may not cause any signs or symptoms, so it’s important to see your doctor for an annual physical. An electrocardiogram is a test that records the heart’s electrical activity and may be used during your physical. It shows you how fast your heart is beating, whether you have a steady or irregular heartbeat and the strength and timing of passing electrical signals through each part of your heart.
Treatments for AFib include medications, non-surgical procedures and surgical procedures. Medicines for AFib may be given through injection or pills until symptoms are controlled. Non-surgical procedures include electrical cardioversion and radiofrequency ablation treatments, both used in attempts of returning the heart back to its regular beat. The surgical procedure involves implanting a small electrical device in the body with wires to the heart called a pacemaker. This device helps sense the heart’s rhythm and assists in regulating its speed.
Home Tips:
Exercise. Regular physical activity is important in reducing your risk of AFib. Don’t smoke or drink and limit or avoid caffeine intake. Also, make sure to eat a heart-healthy diet, low in salt intake and saturated fats to manage your cholesterol levels. Don’t allow your heart to miss a beat by taking the right precautions to ensure a long, healthy life.
At Delray Medical Center, one of the newest procedures we have for A-Fib is called the WATCHMAN™. It’s an implanted device designed to reduce the risk of stroke by closing off the left atrial appendage, which is known to be the main source of blood clots in patients with atrial fibrillation. The procedure is minimally invasive, and recovery typically takes about 24-48 hours.
The positive results of the WATCHMAN™ may include:
Stroke risk reduction
Long term anticoagulation therapy cessation
Better quality of life
The WATCHMAN™ makes managing Atrial Fibrillation so much easier. For more information on the Watchman, please call 1.866.922.AFIB [2342]