What is A-Fib?
A-Fib is a very common form of an irregular heartbeat, or “arrhythmia”. The atria, or top chambers of the heart, don’t completely fill and expel blood. This means that the blood can pool in the atria and not flow properly throughout the cardiovascular system. Most often it is categorized by a higher than normal heart rate during a relaxed event. For example: sitting at your desk at work plugging away at less than interesting documents, and you notice your heart beating more rapidly. We’re not talking about “intense exercise” beating rapidly, but more like a moderate pace walk heartbeat-somewhere in the range of 95-115 beats per minute.
What causes A-Fib?
When the hearts’ electrical system becomes damaged, A-Fib can result. Two other major factors promoting A-Fib are Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and High Blood Pressure. As you age, the risk of having A-Fib increases.
What are the symptoms of A-Fib?
The number one, tell-tale sign of A-Fib is palpitation. Just as I described in the first paragraph, that un-natural feeling heart beat in a calm (typical) situation. Fatigue is another big symptom of this arrhythmia. Some other harder to pinpoint symptoms are shortness of breath, dizziness, or confusion.
How can you prevent/minimize/treat the effects of A-Fib?
Obviously, the best treatment will come from your MD. Some cases are very mild which don’t require treatment at all. Others require medication, and sometimes even an electrical procedure to help get the heart to return to normal function. One of the bigger risks associated with A-Fib is the increased rate of stroke. Your doctor may recommend eating a healthier diet, exercising, limiting salt, cessation of smoking, and other preventative measures to cut out stress. Alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants are also contraindicated for people who suffer from A-Fib.
If your case is mild, you CAN exercise, and being physically active IS recommended by most doctors. If you are unsure, it never hurts to ask at your next checkup. Here’s to your heart!