Category Archives: Irregular Heartbeat
When patients come into our office complaining of a fast-beating heart, unexplained fainting or other issues related to the heartbeat, we immediately turn our minds to the concept of an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. It is estimated that over 5 million Americans are living with a Afib or atrial fibrillation which is the most prevalent arrhythmia in the world. Many more may be suffering from other rhythm issues.
Patients experiencing atrial fibrillation or AFib are at a five times higher risk of stroke than those who do not have the condition. As a result, it is critical to get an early diagnosis and follow a comprehensive treatment plan. However, it is also important to understand the various treatment options to make the very best decision for each patient’s circumstance.
Many of us wait until our symptoms are obvious and even debilitating before we seek medical help. This can also be true with cardiovascular issues. Many times, shrugging off smaller abnormalities leads to progressively worse symptoms and ultimately an unfavorable diagnosis with fewer treatment options. With high cholesterol and high blood pressure issues becoming more and more prevalent in the United States the old thinking that heart disease only affects to the elderly is no longer true.
In fact, prevention starts at a young age. 30, 40 and 50-year-olds that address their risk of heart disease, can add years to their life and avoid serious complications later on.
An irregular heartbeat can occur in just about any patient, regardless of gender, age or lifestyle, although it is more common in older patients who are suffering from obesity or excess weight. The duration and severity of the irregular heartbeat can vary widely between patients as well. Some patients may notice a small flutter occasionally, which may or may not get worse over time. Other patients may find themselves going to the hospital thinking that they are having a heart attack because the irregularity is so severe and persistent. These episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to days, weeks or even months.
Cardiac catheter ablation is the leading edge of arrhythmia treatment. It is currently the safest and most effective way to cure an irregular heartbeat, in many cases, but is also excellent in managing the symptoms caused by atrial fibrillation, or Afib, as well as other common arrhythmias.
Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF is the most common heart arrhythmia or heart rhythm disorder in the US and around the world. AFib begins in the atria, the upper to chambers of the heart. Typically, errant electrical signals in the heart lead to an irregular heartbeat. This can cause significant symptoms including shortness of breath, pain, a sense that the patient’s heart is beating out of their chest and more. Many patients believe that they are having a heart attack and end up in the emergency room. More importantly, AFib can increase the risk of stroke by up to five times and, over the long term, can weaken the heart, leading to heart failure.
As we learn more about excess weight and its consequences, it has become clear how far-reaching its effects truly are. We have known for years that excess weight can lead to cardiac issues as a result of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. More recent studies have identified that some of the factors underlying cardiac arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation, are directly linked to excess weight and obesity. A 2015 study1 in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology shows that obesity has direct follow-on ramifications including increased risk of sudden cardiac death (SCD) and atrial fibrillation.