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What is Atrial Fibrillation and How do I Know if I Have it?

What is Atrial Fibrillation and How do I Know if I Have it?

If you’ve experienced a fluttering sensation in your chest, it could be a sign of atrial fibrillation, also called A-Fib for short. A-Fib is the most common type of heart arrhythmia, and it impacts an estimated 2.7 to 6.1 million Americans.

This condition develops when your heart beats irregularly and causes the upper and lower chambers to move out of sync. 

A-Fib can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, so understanding this severe condition and avoiding episodes could help save your life.

 The team at Internal Medicine Practices, with offices in Lady Lake and Travares, FL, are experts in diagnosing and treating A-Fib.

In this blog, they break down everything you need to know about this leading type of heart arrhythmia. 

Understanding the cause of A-Fib

Anyone can develop A-Fib, but it’s most common in seniors and affects nearly 10% of men and women over age 65 at some level. 

Several factors can cause A-Fib, including:

An A-Fib episode can cause the heart to start beating abnormally. This interferes with the normal blood flow to the heart's lower chambers, and fluid can start to pool and clot. 

If a clot forms in your heart and travels to your brain, it can cause a stroke.

Reducing your risk of A-Fib

The most effective way to prevent A-Fib is by lifestyle changes that reduce unnecessary stress on your heart and improve your overall health.

Manage your weight 

Being overweight increases your chances of A-Fib by 20-25% — and these numbers jump to 60% if you’re obese. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent episodes of A-Fib

Keep your blood pressure in check

Losing excess weight, exercising, reducing stress — and taking medication, if needed — can all help you lower your blood pressure. This is key because normal blood pressure can also help reduce your chances of A-Fib and stroke.

Control your blood sugar

 Prediabetes or diabetes increases your risk of developing A-Fib. If you make the right dietary choices and take medication, you can address these risks and protect your health. Limiting your consumption of caffeine and alcohol may also help.

Don’t ignore underlying medical conditions

Untreated health problems, such as: anxiety, thyroid issues, sleep apnea, and other chronic conditions can stress your heart. Therefore, it’s essential to work closely with your provider to identify and treat these issues to reduce your risk of A-Fib.

Talk to your doctor

If you have A-Fib and it’s causing complications, lifestyle changes alone may not be able to protect your heart adequately. Internal Medicine Practices, we can design a personalized treatment strategy to keep your heart rhythm regular, prevent blood clots, and reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. 

Don’t ignore your symptoms of A-Fib; call Internal Medicine Practices or request an appointment online today.

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