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.
You can also find fantastic resources at StopAfib.org