Atrial fibrillation is a relatively common heart condition that causes the heart’s chambers to beat rapidly in an uncontrolled manner. While AFib itself is not necessarily life-threatening, it can affect the body in many different ways and lead to an increased risk for stroke. Find out more about AFib’s effects on the body in order to seek treatment as early as possible.
The signs and symptoms of AFib are not always obvious. After the age of 55, adults have a one-in-three lifetime risk of developing the condition. One of the most common symptoms of AFib is heart palpitations.
Other symptoms may include muscle weakness, lightheadedness, fainting, fatigue, and chest pain. These symptoms do not always indicate atrial fibrillation, but they can be a warning sign. People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention.
AFib’s Long-Term Effects on Your Body
AFib can have serious long-term effects on your cardiovascular, circulatory, central nervous and respiratory systems. Over time, atrial fibrillation causes the heart to weaken and malfunction, creating the irregular heart rhythm patients experience. The heart’s ineffective contractions can cause blood to pool in the atria and lead to clotting.
An irregular heartbeat can sometimes cause fluid to backup in the lungs, and cause cases of shortness of breath, low blood pressure, and chest pain. AFib patients cannot perform rigorous exercises and should try to avoid unhealthy foods, tobacco and alcohol. Without lifestyle changes, AFib episodes are more likely to occur and lead to a lowered quality of life.
Increased Risk for Stroke
One of the most serious effects of AFib is the drastically increased risk for stroke in patients. The abnormal blood flow caused by an irregular heart rhythm can lead to the formation of a clot. When a clot becomes lodged, it restricts blood flow to the brain and can lead to a stroke.
Nearly half of all ischemic strokes can be traced back to atrial fibrillation. Strokes that arise as a result of AFib-related blood clots carry a higher risk of brain damage than strokes stemming from clots caused by other conditions. AFib patients that also suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, and a history of heart problems can also contribute to the risk for stroke.
If you or a loved one have been recently diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, early treatment is crucial. With proper diagnosis and treatment, AFib’s effects on your body can be minimized. Schedule an appointment with the doctors at Heart Rhythm Consultants to discuss your condition and find the right treatment plan for you.
About Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A.
The experienced electrophysiologists of Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. have been serving West Florida including Sarasota, Venice, Tampa, Port Charlotte, and Sun City Center for over 15 years. Our specialty cardiologists, or EP doctors, help patients manage their abnormal heart rhythm conditions, whether they suffer from arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation (AFib), or other irregular heartbeats.
Dr. Dilip J. Mathew, Dr. Antonio Moretta, Dr. Rajesh Malik, and Dr. Bathia perform arrhythmia treatments like cardiac ablation, cryoablation, and implanting pacemakers or defibrillators. Dr. Mathew has performed nearly 5,000 complex cardiac ablations. View our office locations in Sarasota, Port Charlotte, and Venice, Florida.