AFib: A heart condition too critical to ignore

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AFib, or atrial fibrillation, is one of the most common forms of heart disease, and a common indicator that other heart problems may be lurking beneath.

“It’s really critical that you not ignore what could be symptoms of AFib, and address the problem right away with your cardiologist,” says Dr. Ajay Krishen, a cardiologist with McLaren Port Huron. As a cardiac electrophysiologist, Dr. Krishen meets and treats patient with AFib every day, a condition that 12.1 million people across the country live with.

AFib occurs when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions, causing an irregular heartbeat. This results in pooling of blood as well as inefficient contraction of the heart. This can cause a wide range of symptoms, including the most common:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

Though AFib isn’t usually life threatening on its own, having AFib can put you at higher risk for other heart problems, including stroke or heart failure.

  • Stroke — “Because the blood pools in the heart, it’s a condition ripe for a clot to form,” says Dr. Krishen. “If a clot forms, it could dislodge and travel to the brain, causing a stroke.”
  • Heart Failure — “AFib, especially untreated, can weaken the muscles of the heart, resulting in heart failure,” according to Dr. Krishen. “When heart failure occurs, your heart isn’t strong enough to circulate enough blood to your body.”

Fortunately, with treatments such as Ablation, a medical intervention to normalize the heart’s electrical rhythm, “it’s possible live a very fulfilling life after a diagnosis of AFib,” Dr. Krishen says.

In fact, living with AFib shouldn’t mean being uncomfortable or not feeling well. “For many years, the conventional practice was that intervention such as an ablation was a second line therapy, and that for some people, living with AFib just meant having a lower quality of life,” says Dr. Krishen. “Fortunately, new research published last fall clearly confirms what we’ve been doing at McLaren Port Huron: An ablation should be considered early in treatment for best outcomes. There’s just no reason to procrastinate. A normal heart rhythm improves one’s quality of life and reduces death rates.”

If you think you might have Afib, make an appointment with your primary care physician or cardiologist. If you need a new physician, find one today.