Eliz Greene

Atrial Fibrillation is the most common abnormal heart rhythm.

More than 5.1 million Americans are living with Atrial Fibrillation (Afib). As the Baby Boomers age, these numbers will increase and are expected to reach nearly 16 million by 2050.  September is Afib awareness month, take a few moments to learn about the symptoms and risk factors and be kind to your heart.

Symptoms of Afib vary from patient to patient. Some people feel as if the heart will jump out of the chest, others have no symptoms at all. Patients describe symptoms feeling like:

  • The heart skipping beats.
  • Racing or thudding of the heart.
  • Erratic heart beats.
  • Fluttering in the chest.
  • Worms crawling or dancing in the chest.
  • Chest or throat pressure.

Often these feelings are accompanied by dizziness, fainting, weakness, fatigue, or breathlessness. Symptoms can be fleeting or last for days, weeks, or months.

Afib risk increases with age and other common risk factors include:

  • Underlying heart disease, including atherosclerosis, Rheumatic heart disease, and heart failure.
  • Heart structure issues, including mitral valve prolapse and congenital heart defects.
  • Previous heart attack, stroke, or heart surgery.
  • Pericarditis, the swelling of the sack around the heart.
  • Heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure, Diabetes, and obesity.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Lung disease.
  • Alcohol use. Alcohol can be a trigger for Afib, and binge drinking may increase risk.
  • Family history of Afib.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • High-dose steroid therapy for asthma or other inflammatory condition.

People with any one of these risk factors should be evaluated for Afib and alert their doctor about any heart palpitations or other Afib symptoms immediately.

Find more information in Eliz’s articles on Answers.com especially Understanding Atrial Fibrillation or read our other blog posts about Afib.

You can also find fantastic resources at StopAfib.org


About Eliz Greene

Eliz Greene survived a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins. Her down-to-earth strategies to manage stress and improve heart health and reduce stress are used by thousands of busy people all over the world. She is a motivational wellness speaker, author, and job stress researcher. Visit elizgreene.com to book Eliz for your next event.

One Response to “What Is Atrial Fibrillation?”

  • I’m on the patient end of thngis, not the medical care end, but I have enough contact with doctors (family members, medical blogs) to have it impressed upon me the degree to which doctors think of “patients” as stupid. Perhaps individual patients are bright and thoughtful, and as such are likely to be mentioned if the doctor develops a relationship with them, but in the abstract – stupid. At best ignorant, at worst malicious. I understand that this conception developed over years of actual work with actual patients, and that when doctors educate their patients they must not make any assumptions about what they know and understand – it may be stunningly little. But the conception of “patient” varies with perspective. For instance, if everyone who isn’t a doctor is a patient, I know an awful lot of extremely sophisticated patients. Including my grandmother, a fit 83-year old woman who developed a technique for commercialising the production of penicillin in Rome in the 1950s. (Yes, she developed it. She is a PhD in mycology. She could and she did. The FAO hired her while whe was in Italy because Italy wasn’t a signatory to international patent law at the time, and penicillin was under patent protection and beyond the reach of most of the world’s population. So the FAO hired her to develop a commercial production technique for penicillin independently, from scratch.) Even today, my grandmother’s afternoon reading consists of Nature (yes, that one) and Science News. (Her bedtime reading is more likely to be history.) I grant that my grandmother is not a typical patient, but she is a patient. To say that “a patient” could not understand or care about any particular aspect of their care is simply incorrect. You can only make that kind of statement about a particular patient.I agree that DTC marketing is a problem. I agree that sneakiness is both despicable and a problem. So I do agree with the substance of your post. But I am deeply concerned about the assumptions that no patient could understand their care, that no patient cares about the technical workings of it. As soon as you get into the territory of the medical-themed blog, it seems to me that the odds of running into an educated person have exponentially increased with respect to the territory of the ED. Not acknowledging this fact simply increases the public’s distrust of doctors. In my case, it increases my fear of doctors: if my doctor assumes I am ignorant and wrong at all times and cannot understand or care about my care, then how can I advocate for myself if I believe that I am being harmed by a particular course of treatment at a particular time? Or if a doctor and I disagree about the need for agressive treatment?

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