Publish 28 January 2021
You Have Felt AFib
Have you ever ran so fast that you ran out of breath? At that time, your body was so worked up that you could hear your heart beating in your ears! The same goes for when you are within eye contact with a very special loved one. Your heart starts thumping in your chest as if it would jump right out at any second?
These instances give you an idea of how it feels like to have an Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). But beware—there is nothing lovey-dovey or exciting about it! Unlike running or encounters with a loved one, where your heart skips a beat or starts beating very fast, AFib is something you should take seriously. It can compromise your health or cause serious harm.
Let us learn more about these ‘irregular, life-shaking’ heartbeats that could soon turn into something very serious if left untreated.
What Is Atrial Fibrillation?
Atrial Fibrillation or ‘AFib’ for short is an irregular type of heartbeat or ‘cardiac arrhythmia.’ It occurs due to any disruption or disturbance in the smooth flow of blood across the heart chambers. It is one of the most common heart arrhythmias in cardiology.
AFib can itself be life-threatening, or it may also indicate that the person experiencing it is at risk to experience a stroke or the development of blood clots in the future. Not every AFib is lethal, some are common, non-harming ones.
There is increasing concern over AFib occurring in people over 65 years of age who already suffer from other heart-related conditions. When it happens in younger people, it is usually monitored with at-home care. But it is still serious so don’t ignore it.
Symptoms and Signs of AFib
Cardiology can be a very confusing field. This is because so many heart-related conditions present with the same set of signs and symptoms. Thus, they need further exploration to reach the root cause.
Enlisted below are some of the specific signs and symptoms that a person with AFib develops:
- Chest Pain: Depending on your condition, they may be severe stabbing-type of pains or mild, but constant ones.
- Palpitations: This is when you feel as if your heart is ‘racing’ and beating much faster than normal.
- Dizziness: Experiencing something new can definitely wear you out. A person might feel lightheaded or dizzy, which makes him want to sit down for a while.
- Confusion: One thing leads to the other and the person might faint or feel confused. He might become disoriented or lack the sense that tells him where he is.
- Intolerance: Patients suffering from AFib usually develop a ‘lack of stamina.’
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of AFib is the same as any other disease in cardiology: through the 12-Lead ECG. Sometimes, the pulse rate also increases. But this is not a specific marker for diagnosing AFib. Only an ECG can diagnose or confirm suspicion of AFib.
A person with an AFib diagnoses gets an individual treatment plan. When intensive care is necessary, the patient receives immediate hospitalization.
Doctors can manage patients with mild to moderate AFib using medicines such as Beta Blockers, Calcium Channel Blockers, Sodium, and Potassium Channel Blockers, etc. This helps normalize their heart rate and rhythm.
Whether risk factors are mild or moderate, patients need constant monitoring to assess any developing or deteriorating conditions.
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Co-author Anique Ali, MD has a keen interest in medical bioinformatics.
- Staerk L, Sherer JA, Ko D, Benjamin EJ, Helm RH. Atrial Fibrillation: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Clinical Outcomes. Circ Res. 2017;120(9):1501-1517. doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.117.309732
- Dang D, Arimie R, Haywood LJ. A review of atrial fibrillation. J Natl Med Assoc. 2002 Dec;94(12):1036-48. PMID: 12510703; PMCID: PMC2568400.
- Gutierrez C, Blanchard DG. Diagnosis and Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation. Am Fam Physician. 2016 Sep 15;94(6):442-52. PMID: 27637120.
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