Sep 06, 2019

Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib. Joining us tonight on House Call is Cheryl Farley, manager of UHC Cardiac Rehab and Pulmonary Rehab.

1) Explain for people watching at home what Atrial Fibrillation is?

Atrial fibrillation, often referred to as "Afib", is an irregular heartbeat, a rapid heartbeat, or a quivering of the upper chambers of the heart, called the atria. Atrial fibrillation is due to a malfunction in the heart's electrical system, and is the most common heart irregularity, or cardiac arrhythmia.

2) So why is Atrial Fibrillation life threatening?

You may have heard or read that atrial fibrillation is benign. That's simply not true. By not getting enough oxygen to the body, Afib can lead to heart and valve diseases, sleep apnea, and chronic fatigue. In addition, atrial fibrillation can lead to two potentially life-threatening conditions, congestive heart failure and stroke. It needs to be treated seriously.

3) Can you describe for us what Atrial Fibrillation might feel like?

Different patients have different symptoms. Some patients describe Afib as feeling like skipped heartbeats, followed by a thud and a speeding up or racing of the heart. Others describe it as an erratic heartbeat, strong heart palpitations, or simply a rapid heart rate. For still others, it feels like fluttering, butterflies, or even a flopping fish in the chest. Others have chest and throat pressure that mimics a heart attack, or constriction around the left bicep.

The first time, it's really scary, and you wonder, "Is this a heart attack?" It may leave you dizzy, faint, light-headed, anxious, breathless, weak, or just plain exhausted. After it stops, you may feel drained.

For some people, Afib doesn't stop, and may continue on for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years.

This content was originally posted on the WDTV News website here.

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