All about A-fib, Cardiac-rhythm condition on the rise in US
- Atrial Fibrillation is a heart-rhythm anomaly
- Usual symptoms include breathless or feeling of the heart race
- A-fib increases the risk of stroke in adults
A-fib or Atrial Fibrillation, a heart-rhythm abnormality, is on the rise in the United States. Nearly three million adults in the US have been diagnosed with this condition and the number is expected to quadruple in a few years with increasing lifestyle factors like population age, obesity and diabetes.
In A-fib, the atria, the two upper chambers of the heart, beat rapidly and chaotically out of sync with the ventricles, according to a report in The New York Times.
The ventricles are the heart’s lower pumping chambers that circulate blood throughout the body. If the heart beats chaotically, the ventricles may not be able to pump through enough blood to meet the body’s needs. This leads to sluggish circulation and cause fatigue and breathlessness.
The worst aspect of this condition is that not many people are even aware that they have this abnormality unless things escalate. Here’s how one can recognise the signs of the anomaly and initiate treatment.
How do I know if I have A-fib?
People with A-fib may experience occasional bouts of breathlessness or their heart race, pound or flutter periodically for minutes at a time. The symptoms may be triggered by excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine.
While for some people the abnormal rhythms may last for minutes, for some they may persist.
What are the risks of having A-fib?
According to a report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, A-fib can raise the risk of stroke four-fold in men and nearly six-fold in women. A-fib may also be associated with risks of dementia.
What is the treatment for A-fib?
If A-fib is confirmed, doctors may employ shock treatment to get the heart beating back into a normal rhythm using a procedure called electrical cardioversion. In the longer term, patients with A-fib are treated with beta blockers and calcium blockers that help the heart sustain a normal rhythm.