February is American Heart Month, and the Centers for Disease Control want to encourage everyone to pay extra attention to their heart and seek treatment as soon as possible if necessary in an effort to prevent heart attacks and other related complications. Heart disease can affect anyone, men and women, young and old, all ethnicities and races, so it’s important for every person to monitor their heart health closely, as heart disease can turn deadly if not treated.

How do I know if I should seek treatment?

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should see a cardiologist about your heart health immediately:

  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest Pains
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Rapid heart rate

Your general physician should be listening to your heart rate during every annual physical and notifying you if you need to see a heart specialist. So if it’s been awhile since you’ve had your heart checked, February is the perfect time to make an appointment.

What complications can arise from an irregular heartbeat?

The severity of a heart arrhythmia can vary drastically from patient to patient, and many people can live with the condition for years without experiencing any complications. However, heart conditions such as AFib can significantly increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke, sometimes resulting in death. If you think you have a heart arrhythmia, even if it doesn’t seem particularly serious to you, it’s important to visit a cardiac electrophysiologist as soon as possible to mitigate your risk for potentially lethal complications.

What treatment options are available to keep my heart healthy?

Depending upon the specific type of arrhythmia the patient is experiencing, there are many different treatment options available. Several different types of long-term medications can be prescribed in order to slow or increase the heart rate and suppress tachycardias. Many patients may also be prescribed blood thinner medication in order to combat the increased risk of blood clots that can lead to a stroke.

Other specialized treatments are aimed at bringing the heart back to its normal rhythm, including implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (similar to a pacemaker), and cardiac catheter ablation, which involves using energy waves delivered through wires that disrupt the arrhythmia. Some patients who are high-risk for strokes may also choose to undergo the WATCHMAN Procedure, which closes the left atrial appendage and reduces the likelihood of blood clots.

Proactive heart care is the best weapon in the fight against heart conditions, so use American Heart Month as an opportunity for Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A., serving patients in Sarasota and surrounding cities, to evaluate your heart health and discuss options with you.