Atrial Fibrillation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Despite the fact that atrial fibrillation (AFib) is quite common (with at least 2.7 million people in the United States having the condition, according to Heart.org), few are aware of what atrial fibrillation is and how dangerous this condition can really be. If you have recently discovered that you or someone you love has AFib, let’s take a closer look at what this condition is and what it means for those affected. 

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What Is Atrial Fibrillation? 

Atrial fibrillation is a type of heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) that interrupts your blood flow. Rather than your heart pumping blood as it normally would, AFib causes a quivering movement that affects the top two chambers of your heart, aptly known as the atria. This then causes the blood to flow unnaturally to the ventricles (the lower chambers) and impacts how it flows through the rest of the body. Although it may not sound serious to some, this condition can actually put you at higher risk for stroke and serious blood clots. But how can you tell if you have it? 

What Are the Symptoms of AFib? 

AFib reveals itself long before you may experience one of the potential outcomes listed above. Some of the symptoms of AFibinclude: 

  • Noticeable heart palpitations, which may include feeling as though your heart has missed a beat or is beating too fast or too slow
  • Trouble exercising
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness and feeling lightheaded
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Confusion

The good news is that, while this is a serious condition, treatment is possible to lower your risk of stroke and blood clots and experience relief from these symptoms. 

How to Treat AFib

Depending on the type of AFib you have, treatment may or may not be needed. For example, if you have a type of AFib known as paroxysmal AFib, you will recover from it without having to seek out medical help. However, you still may need to take medicine to manage symptoms and prevent it from becoming an issue in the future. For those who have a type of AFib that does have noticeable symptoms and won’t go away on its own, there are several kinds of treatment options available. Some of these treatments include:

  • If you are at a higher risk for blood clots and at a high risk of stroke, you may take blood thinners to help the blood throw more effectively through your body. Prescription drugs like Eliquis are designed especially for this purpose. (On a side note, you should also look for discounts like an available Eliquis coupon to get your prescription medication cheaper from local pharmacies. Although medicine like blood thinners are certainly necessary to help you deal with AFib, they shouldn’t have to break the bank by resulting in extra out-of-pocket costs!)
  • Beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and sodium or potassium channel blockers are all used to decrease your heart rate, relax your heart, and improve your heart rhythm. 
  • If you find that your AFib symptoms are quite serious, you may need to have prosthetic heart valves placed into your heart to reduce the potential for blood clots and stroke and improve heart function. 

Along with these recommendations, you may also be told to change your diet and take certain supplements in order to improve your health. 

An irregular heartbeat can be quite serious, as is demonstrated by the overview of AFib above. If you believe that you have this heart condition, use the guide above to learn more about this type of heart arrhythmia, how it impacts you, and what you can do to take care of it and work towards a healthier future.

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