Atrial Fibrillation and the Heart

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This September is dedicated to Atrial Fibrillation awareness

American Heart Association reminds us that “AFib can happen to anyone.” It’s essential to understand what Atrial Fibrillation is and the symptoms associated to prevent the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Quick Anatomy Lesson

It’s easiest to explain the anatomy of the heart to understand what is atrial fibrillation. Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. It’s made up of four chambers. The two chambers on top are known as the Atria. The bottom two chambers are known as the ventricles.

 In an adult, regular electrical pulses are sent out by the sinus node, which is the system that controls the heart rate. The ingenious system generates electrical pulses and conducts them all over the muscle of the heart, stimulating the heart to pump out blood as it contracts.

 Fun fact: hearts beat roughly 60 to 100 times (or beats) per minute

Atrial Fibrillation happens when other areas send out unnecessary electrical impulses. As a result, the heart begins to twitch or quiver causing an irregular heartbeat When this happens, blood doesn’t get delivered to the body properly. In some cases, the irregularity of blood flow will cause a clot. This can be dangerous when the clot travels to the brain because it will result in a stroke. The cause of Afib may be due to the heart’s irregular structure (happening at birth), high blood pressure, or a prior heart attack. Watch this video for a Complete Guide to Atrial Fibrillation for a further description of causes.

Signs of AFib

People who experience AFib may not even know they have the condition. Some signs may include tiredness, dizziness, shortness of breath and palpitations. Watch this quick YouTube video to learn more about the signs and symptoms.

Diagnosis & Treatment

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several things that your doctor will do to confirm a diagnosis. Some of these include an electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, blood tests, and stress tests. In most cases, the patient will need to have blood drawn to rule out thyroid issues. However, first, the doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. Treatment involves lifestyle changes and medication, sometimes procedures such as pacemakers, cardioversion, ablation, or surgery.

If left untreated, AFib can increase the risk of heart failure, blood clots, stroke, and other heart-related complications. This common, yet unknown condition affects at least 2.7 million Americans each year. It’s important for those who are concerned with AFib to speak to their physician to avoid further strain, obtain guidelines, and talk about treatments.

Conclusion

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms related to atrial fibrillation, it’s time to get checked! What better time than in September? It is AFib Awareness Month after all. Please feel free to check out our local business directory right here on your screen. We can connect you to one of the lovely health clinicians located here in Williamson County. You may find some of these related Wilco Wellness blogs helpful as well:  

As always, keep us mind! We would love to hear your comments or how we can improve our material. It’s our goal to provide good, solid information to our community for a longer, stronger and happier ‘community family’. Thanks for stopping to read our blogs!