Contributed by Ohad Ziv, MD | Division Director of Electrophysiology.
About 4 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, known as A-FIB. The most common heart rhythm abnormality, A-FIB is an irregular, often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow and potentially blood clots in your heart. In fact, it’s the top reason for admission in local hospitals and can lead to stroke it untreated.
A-FIB is caused by damaged tissue in the top chamber of your heart. It happens when the damaged tissue causes electrical signals that creates extra heartbeats.
- Heart palpitations, or pounding, fluttering, and/or irregular heartbeats, even for just a few seconds
- Moments of fast heart rate or skipped beats
Some people have no symptoms of A-FIB at all, which is why it’s important to stay in tune with your heart health with a primary care provider. This is especially true if you have risk factors like sleep apnea, obesity, alcohol use, diabetes, and high blood pressure, a personal history of stroke, or a family history of A-FIB.
If you are experiencing A-FIB symptoms, your primary care provider may refer you to a MetroHealth cardiologist at MetroHealth’s Heart and Vascular Center.
Symptoms that can’t wait
Many people experience A-FIB symptoms that come and go, and symptoms can be managed through a good relationship with a primary care provider or cardiologist.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, go to your nearest emergency room.
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Stroke symptoms like slurred speech, arm weakness, and confusion
Managing care long-term
To treat A-FIB, your cardiologist may recommend blood thinners, other medication, or ablation—scarring heart tissue with heat to block abnormal symptoms. As an alternative to blood thinners, a procedure may be recommended to reduce the risk of stroke.
“At MetroHealth, we treat the most complex and difficult cases of atrial fibrillation,” says Dr. Ohad Ziv, MD, Division Director of Electrophysiology. “Our pioneering techniques for ablation to treat persistent A-FIB can help people achieve healthier outcomes.”