September is Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month. This is the time we urge individuals of all ages and backgrounds to educate themselves about the risk factors, symptoms, and treatments associated with atrial fibrillation (AFib).

AFib can affect anyone

Atrial fibrillation is a common type of heart arrhythmia, caused when the upper chambers of the heart begin to beat irregularly. This prevents blood from flowing normally throughout the body, and patients who live with the condition are subject to a wide range of symptoms and complications that range from unpleasant to life-threatening.

AFib awareness month is an important reminder that there are millions of Americans currently living with AFib, and many millions more who are at risk. Although anyone can contract a heart arrhythmia, older people, patients with pre-existing heart conditions, and people with high blood pressure carry increased levels of risk.

Awareness saves lives

AFib awareness month is vital to creating a healthier population because we are all at risk of developing an arrhythmia. According to research by the American Heart Association, approximately only one-third of AFib patients consider the condition to be serious, and less than half think they are at greater risk for a stroke or other heart-related incident.

When people are cognizant of the dangers and symptoms associated with AFib, they will be more likely to seek treatment at the first sign of trouble, rather than waiting for the arrhythmia to progress. Awareness can’t replace proper treatment, but it can help ensure that people know when they need to get the treatment that can reduce their risk of serious complications.

Learn more about the dangers of strokes

The increased risk for stroke is one of the main reasons why more AFib education is needed among the general population, and why everyone should treat irregular heartbeats as a serious condition. When the heart beats irregularly blood clots are more likely to form, and these clots can lodge in the bloodstream and prevent blood from traveling to the brain. This is how a stroke happens, and AFib patients in particular are five times more likely to suffer a stroke than the general population.

Understand the symptoms, get the right treatment, and reduce your risk

If you suspect that you may have AFib, don’t let any more time pass before seeking help. You need to understand the symptoms and risk factors so you can get effective treatment as early as possible; it’s the only way to reduce your risk of suffering a stroke or other heart condition.

If you or a loved one are living with a heart rhythm disorder such as atrial fibrillation, contact Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. 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.