Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)
Atrial fibrillation, called “AFib” for short, is one of the most severe heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias). It causes rapid irregular heartbeats (tachycardia) where single muscle fibers in your heart contract out of sync with the others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that atrial fibrillation impacts 2.7 to 6.1 million Americans. People more than 60 years old have the greatest risk of atrial fibrillation.
People who feel an overly rapid pulse in their neck, racing heartbeat, chest tightness, weakness, clammy, dizziness, or shortness of breath should visit their doctor immediately because atrial fibrillation is easily remedied when it is diagnosed early.
Atrial fibrillation can be controlled by reducing your use of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and cough and cold medicines. It can also be caused by rheumatic heart disease or an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), so if you have one of these conditions, getting treatment for it may alleviate your atrial fibrillation, too.
Atrial fibrillation can be dangerous if left untreated because it can cause blood to pool in the heart’s upper chambers. This can result in blood clots that may travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Approximately 15-20% of strokes are the result of atrial fibrillation. People with atrial fibrillation can easily reduce their risk of stroke by taking blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming in the heart.