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Why You Should Know More About Atrial Fibrillation

Why You Should Know More About Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) affects at least 2.7 million people in the United States, but the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that this number will rise to more than 12 million by 2030. This eye-opening statistic about AFib is just one of several that underscore the importance of learning what you can about this potentially dangerous heart arrhythmia.

At South Mountain Cardiology, our team, including, Dr. Nadeem Husain, Patti Cox, MSN, ARNP, and Kim Munneke, MSN, FNP-C, believes that education is paramount when it comes to your cardiovascular health. If you consider that the American Heart Association (AHA) reports that cardiovascular diseases affect nearly half of all adults in the US, you begin to see that spending a little time informing yourself in this area is time well spent.

To that end, we’re going to focus on AFib in this month’s blog post.

AFib basics

Normally, your heart beats steadily throughout the day — about 60-100 times per minute — delivering oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to your body. Any interruption or abnormality in your heartbeat threatens this delivery system, which can have potentially dire consequences for your health.

An abnormal heart rate is called an arrhythmia and AFib is the most common type. With Afib, the upper chambers of your heart — your atria — quiver instead of beat, which means blood isn’t flowing efficiently through your heart.

The complications of AFib

The primary concerns we have when it comes to AFib are two very serious complications, including:

Stroke

When you have AFib, blood clots can develop and, should they become dislodged, they can block the blood vessel that leads to your brain, creating a stroke. The statistic that should make you sit up and take notice is people with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke.

Congestive heart failure

When you have AFib, your heart isn’t beating efficiently and, over time, this can weaken your heart and lead to congestive heart failure. With heart failure, your heart struggles to circulate the blood your body needs. 

While AFib places you more at risk for heart failure, people with heart failure are more likely to develop AFib, making the connection bi-directional.

Unfortunately, the AHA reports that only one-third of people with AFib feel that the disease is serious and less than half of AFIb patients understand that the condition can lead to stroke or heart-related death.

Your risk factors for AFib

Since the CDC predicts that AFib numbers will quadruple by 2030, we feel it’s important to understand your risks for AFib, which include:

While there are some risk factors you can do little about, such as advancing age, others are within your power to change, such as lowering your blood pressure and/or cholesterol numbers.

Managing AFib

While we’ve painted a fairly dire picture of AFib, we want to point out that there are many ways in which we can help you manage the condition. Depending upon the extent of your AFib, we can turn to:

In addition to these measures, lifestyle changes that improve your health, such as dietary improvements, more exercise, and weight loss, can also produce great results and reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.

If you have more questions about AFib, your risk factors, or how to manage the arrhythmia, please contact our office in Tempe, Arizona, to schedule a consultation.

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