If your heartbeat quivers or is irregular, you may have atrial fibrillation (Afib). It is a serious condition that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related issues. Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes at a regular beat in order to pump blood throughout the body. But in atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of your heart, known as the atria, start quivering or beating irregularly, which affects its ability to effectively move the blood into the ventricles, the lower chambers of your heart. If clot forms, enters the bloodstream, and gets lodged in one of the arteries that lead to the brain, it can result in a stroke. If you have been diagnosed with Afib, your doctor will look into factors like your age, weight, lifestyle, other health issues you may have, and the duration and frequency of your symptoms and will customize your treatment based on your individual needs. Here are some important questions you should ask your doctor if you have been diagnosed with Afib so that you havea better, well-informed idea about your condition.
1. How Important Is Controlling Afib?
The sooner you try to control Afib and resolve your issue, the higher your chances are of your heartbeat returning to normal. This is because Afib is a progressive disease. If you have been suffering from Afib for a long time, your risk of stroke and heart failure increases. According to the National Stroke Association, a person with Afib is 5 times more likely to suffer from a stroke than a person who does not.1
2. What Are The Tests I Need?
Your doctor will be able to have a better idea of your condition after looking at your brain and heart health. You may have to undergo tests like an electrocardiogram and an echocardiogram. An MRI can also give your doctors a good idea about your the health of your brain so that they can determine your risk of stroke and whether you need blood-thinning medication or not.
3. What Are The Factors Causing My Symptoms?
You may be suffering from Afib because you may be suffering from certain health conditions like hypertension, diabetes, or coronary heart disease. It is very important to know the cause as it has a tremendous effect on the type of treatment you will receive. Your weight can also play a role in contributing to your condition. If you are obese, especially morbidly obese, your risk of Afib increases. Even people with hyperthyroidism and sleep apnea can increase your risk. According to the American Heart Association, treating underlying issues can help restore your normal heart rhythm.2
4. What Are My Treatment Options?
There are many treatment options available for Afib. You can take medications that control your heart rhythm, take blood-thinning medication in order to prevent clots, or have catheter ablation, which is a procedure that uses radio waves or lasers to block the electric signals that trigger Afib. The treatment option that is best suited for you will be decided by your doctor after considering your weight, age, and frequency of your symptoms.
5. What Lifestyle Changes Should I Make?
One of the most important things you should ask your doctor regarding Afib is whether your condition is reversible or not. If you drink too much caffeine or are too stressed, making certain lifestyle changes can help reverse your problem. You should also start eating a healthy diet, limit your alcohol intake, quit smoking, get regular physical exercise, and keep your blood pressure in check.3
|↑1||Am I Having A Stroke? National Stroke Association.|
|↑2||Atrial Fibrillation (AF or AFib). American Heart Association.|
|↑3||Lowres, Nicole, Lis Neubeck, S. Ben Freedman, Tom Briffa, Adrian Bauman, and Julie Redfern. “Lifestyle risk reduction interventions in atrial fibrillation: a systematic review.” European journal of preventive cardiology 19, no. 5. 2012.|