GMC Blog

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Your heart is like a well-oiled machine, contracting and relaxing to a regular beat when it pumps blood to your body. If you feel that your heartbeat is always racing as if it’s skipping a beat or hammering to your chest wall, it may be best to consult a doctor for atrial fibrillation.

According to the American Heart Association, over 2.7 million Americans have atrial fibrillation or AFib, but only half of these patients are aware of the seriousness of their condition. Many untreated patients with atrial fibrillation usually have twice the risk of heart-related complications as well as a five-fold increase risk for stroke. Anyone can develop this condition especially for adults who are 60 years or older. It is also common for individuals who are already suffering from medical conditions such as an overactive thyroid gland and sleep apnea as well as other heart problems including heart disease from high blood pressure, congenital heart defect, cardiomyopathy or heart muscle disease and more.

Knowing the Symptoms & Getting the Right Treatment

The most common symptom of atrial fibrillation is the quivering or fluttering heartbeat. There are many cases, however, when the patient does not experience any obvious symptoms and their condition is only detectable upon physical examination.

For other who have experienced some warning signs, these include:

  • General fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Uneven pulse
  • Chest pain or any pressure in your chest
  • Shortness of breath or anxiety
  • Weakness leading to faintness or confusion
  • Cold sweats

Treatment of atrial fibrillation varies according to the patient’s individual health. If you are experiencing the aforementioned symptoms, schedule a visit with your doctor to diagnose you properly and recommend the right treatment plan for you. The most common treatment is the prevention of blood clots and managing risk factors for stroke. While some may need to take medications, others may only have to make simple healthy lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking, reducing caffeine intake, losing weight, or increasing physical activity. The National Stroke Association also recommends that you check your pulse once a month to catch an irregular heartbeat early, especially if you are over the age of 40 and have other risk factors for stroke.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.