Heart and Vascular Care
Want to learn more about this at Kettering Health?
Atrial fibrillation, commonly known as AFib, is a heart disorder of an irregular heart rhythm. Symptoms of atrial fibrillation can include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, unusual fatigue, or dizzy spells.
However, many people who have AFib may show no symptoms, and, in fact, up to one-third of women with AFib don’t feel symptoms. For those patients, says Sameh Khouzam, MD, a cardiac arrhythmia specialist, sometimes the first presentation of AFib can be a stroke.
In women, the risk for AFib increases after age 60, and prevalence continues to increase between the ages of 65 and 85. AFib can be detected at regular good visits and heart screenings, so consistent check-ups are extremely important, especially after 60.
Treatment of AFib
“Treatment of atrial fibrillation is based upon symptoms,” Dr. Khouzam says. “In the treatment approach, we consider if the patient has lifestyle-limiting symptoms.” Treatments fall into three categories:
- Surgical options
Lifestyle changes include incorporating regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and controlling diabetes and blood pressure. AFib is also associated with obesity and sleep apnea, so weight management is important. These lifestyle behaviors are important for the prevention and successful treatment of AFib.
A family doctor or heart specialist can recommend blood thinners, rate control, or rhythm control medicines. If needed, surgical options can also be explored, however, surgery is not always necessary, and many patients are successful with simply managing their symptoms.
Living with AFib
According to the National Stroke Association, 60-80% of strokes in those with AFib can be prevented. Because strokes can be fatal or life-altering, managing AFib and making an extra effort to stay healthy is extremely important.
Part of managing AFib can be recognizing and avoiding triggers. Triggers will vary by individual, but some of the most common ones include hormonal fluctuations in women, over-the-counter medicines, and alcohol or caffeine.
Have you ever had a heart screening? Click here to request one online today.
The month's most popular health news, stories, and tips in your inbox.Sign Up