Atrial fibrillation occurs when an upper chamber in your heart, the atrium, stops beating in a normal rhythm and flutters or quivers instead. You can have Afib without even knowing it, or the symptoms can range from very mild to mimicking a heart attack. While Afib by itself is rarely life threatening, it can lead to several complications that can have serious consequences. The severity of your Afib will play a factor in choosing the best treatment option, and should be discussed with a cardiac electrophysiologist that specializes in heart rhythm disorders.
Possible Side Effects of Afib
In the most severe circumstances, you may need to be hospitalized during an Afib attack. In other cases, atrial fibrillation can be managed with medication on an ongoing basis. Whether your Afib is mild or severe, it’s crucial that you seek medical attention and follow all of the doctor’s orders when treating your heart. Making any suggested lifestyle changes, such as exercising, quitting smoking, or losing weight will also aid in the treatment of your heart rhythm disorder. If you ignore any doctor recommended instructions, you run the risk of worsening your condition and may fall victim to more life threatening conditions, including:
- Stroke. When you have Afib, the irregular fluttering in the upper chambers of your heart prevents it from pumping regularly. Instead, the blood pools at the bottom of the chamber and can lead to the formation of blood clots. If one of these clots comes loose and travels through your bloodstream to your brain, it can cause a stroke. The risk of stroke during an Afib attack depends partly on your age and other health factors. Your doctor will evaluate each case individually to determine if certain medications, such as blood thinners, are necessary to reduce the chances of clots forming.
- Heart Failure. Atrial fibrillation can weaken the heart if you leave it untreated, and this can lead to heart failure. When the heart isn’t strong enough to pump enough blood to support a healthy body, your other organs run the risk of failing as well.
It’s important that you know the details that pertain to your particular case of atrial fibrillation. Contact our office and make an appointment with Dr. Dilip Mathew to discuss the health of your heart and treatment options. Dr. Mathew has several convenient locations in Sarasota and Venice, and also services surrounding cities including Bradenton, Port Charlotte, and Sebring.