Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) is a progressive condition, which means that it can start out very mild and develop into a much more serious condition. Stay on top of your heart health by learning to recognize some of the different types of AFib and what you can do to protect yourself.

How AFib can progress over time

AFib and its associated symptoms can take many different forms. When many patients first contract the condition, periods of AFib may be very brief and erratic. The symptoms that occur because of the arrhythmia are often mild, and sometimes even nonexistent. The risk of stroke is still present as long as the heart is beating out of rhythm, but these arrhythmias will sometimes resolve on their own in as little as a few minutes, and certain medications can be very effective at controlling the episodes.

However, it’s possible for bouts of AFib to become more consistent, more frequent, longer lasting, and more severe over time. In fact, you may experience any one of these developments or any combination of them. You may also find that the same medications that were effective earlier don’t work as well, or stop having any effect altogether.

Persistent AFib

Persistent AFib is typically categorized as an AFIb episode that lasts for seven consecutive days. Your heart may then go back into its normal rhythm for a period of time before you have another bout.

Long-standing Persistent AFib

Long-standing persistent AFib is even more worrisome because it occurs when the arrhythmia lasts for an entire year without stopping. Long-standing persistent AFib significantly increases the risk of a dangerous stroke or other complication for the patient.

Tips for monitoring the progression of your AFib

Because AFib is a progressive condition, catching it early is of vital importance to reduce the risk of a deadly stroke. Review the common symptoms of AFib and see a medical professional as soon as possible if you think you may have any type of AFib. Also, if your current AFib medication or treatment isn’t working, consult with your electrophysiologist immediately, as it could be a sign that the condition is progressing.

If you or a loved one are living with a heart rhythm disorder, contact Heart Rhythm Consultants. Dr. Dilip Mathew is board certified in Cardiology & Cardiac Electrophysiology and has been serving patients in Sarasota and surrounding cities including Port Charlotte, Venice, Tampa and Sun City Center for over a decade.