Identifying Atrial Fibrillation and Treatment Options

SEPTEMBER 10, 2019
Jill Murphy, Assistant Editor
September marks the start of National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, and it offers an opportunity to learn about and share information on the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment for this serious heart condition.

Atrial Fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, can happen to anyone, although the chances of developing this condition increases with age. About 70% of people with AF are between the ages of 65 and 85 years.1

AF can lead to other various heart-related complications, such as blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. This condition can occur without any signs or symptoms and can result in life-threatening complications if left untreated.1,2

The prevalence of the issue in the United States ranges from 2.7 million to 6.1 million. This number is expected to increase to 12.1 million by 2030.2

Many patients are unaware of the severity that Atrial Fibrillation can cause, although it is known to double the risk of heart-related deaths. Having this heart condition can make a patient five times more likely to have a stroke than someone who does not have it.1

You are more likely to develop AFib if you have:2
  • high blood pressure
  • coronary heart disease, heart defects, or heart failure
  • rheumatic heart disease or pericarditis
  • hyperthyroidism
  • obesity
  • diabetes or metabolic syndrome
  • lung disease or kidney disease
  • sleep apnea
  • a family history of AFib

Irregular heartbeat, chest discomfort or pain, extreme fatigue, faintness or confusion, and lightheaded or dizziness are some of the most common symptoms of AFib, although sometimes one may not feel any at all.1,2

There are treatment options available. This includes surgery, blood-thinning medication to prevent future blood clots from forming, medication targeted to control the heart’s rhythm and rate, and a healthy lifestyle change.1


References
  1. American Heart Association. What is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF)? AHA website. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation/what-is-atrial-fibrillation-afib-or-af. Published July 31, 2016. Accessed September 9, 2019.
  2. Atrial fibrillation: facts, statistics, and you. Healthline website. https://www.healthline.com/health/living-with-atrial-fibrillation/facts-statistics-infographic# Updated in 2018. Accessed September 9, 2019.


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