As many as six million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, a potentially dangerous abnormality in the heart’s normal rhythm or beat pattern. Like other heart diseases, AFib affects women and men, but the causes and effects of AFib can be different depending on the patient’s gender.

Atrial fibrillation: Men vs. Women

AFib tends to occur more frequently in men. However, since women live longer, over time the risks tend to even out. Men also tend to develop AFib earlier than women — as much as 10 years earlier, according to one study. Interestingly, another study found that while women tend to show more symptoms of AFib than men (including palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue), they receive less minimally-invasive therapies like cardiac ablation. Women are also more prone to feelings of fear and anxiety surrounding their AFib symptoms, and another study found they’re more likely to have a stroke compared to men.

Of course, both women and men can be successfully treated for AFib. Understanding the differences in how and when the condition presents in men compared to women is important for making sure AFib is diagnosed — and treated — as early as possible.

Treating AFib: How an EP doctor can help

Since AFib is essentially a problem with the heart’s electrical signals, an EP doctor plays an important role in both the diagnosis and treatment of AFib. A skilled cardiac electrophysiologist evaluates the heart’s rhythm and uses special computer technology systems to map the heart and its electrical signals. This mapping can help the doctor understand why AFib is occurring, as well as identifying abnormal tissue that might be interfering with the way the signals are transmitted. Several treatment options are available for patients with AFib. Some patients benefit from medications to help stabilize their heart rhythm or heart rate. Pacemakers are another option, designed to send emit tiny pulses of energy to “adjust” the heart’s rhythm.

Today, there’s a newer option called cardiac ablation. This minimally-invasive procedure eliminates the irregular, malfunctioning tissue that allows irregular beats to occur. Once the tissue is destroyed, the heart’s electrical signals are normalized so the heart can beat normally again. Cardiac ablation can be performed using radiofrequency energy to destroy the abnormal tissue, or it may use very cold energy, a method called cryoablation.

See a leading EP doctor in Florida

Heart Rhythm Consultants uses state-of-the-art techniques to treat AFib. Our doctors know that no two patients are alike. They tailor every treatment plan to suit the needs and medical profiles of the individual, for optimal results and better long-term heart health.

With locations in Sarasota, Venice and Port Charlotte, Heart Rhythm Consultants helps men and women from throughout the greater Tampa and Bradenton areas get the care they need to keep their hearts healthy — and live healthier lives. If you have symptoms of AFib or any other unusual symptoms like chronic fatigue, shortness of breath or chest discomfort, don’t delay care. Call our offices to schedule an appointment today.

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, and Dr. Rajesh Malik 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 and Venice, Florida.