The rhythm of your heartbeat affects how blood flows through all four chambers of the heart. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a type of arrhythmia that causes an irregular and rapid heartbeat. With AFib, the upper chambers of your heart are out of sync with the lower chambers.
Normally, your heart beats 60 to 100 times a minute. With AFib, the heart may beat anywhere from 100 to 175 times a minute. Though AFib is a manageable condition, there are many misconceptions about the arrhythmia and how it’s treated.
At Indus Cardiology Inc., in West Covina, Pomona, and Montclair, California, our heart expert, Yogesh Paliwal, MD, wants to debunk some of the common myths about AFib.
Myth 1: Only older adults have to worry about AFib
Yes, your risk of having AFib increases as you get older. However, your age isn’t the only factor that puts you at risk of developing this type of heart arrhythmia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypertension is responsible for 20% of AFib cases. Physical stress, illness, smoking, and moderate to heavy alcohol use are also risk factors for AFib.
Though AFib is less common in adults younger than 55, you can develop the arrhythmia at any age.
Myth 2: I don’t have to worry since my AFib happened only once
During the early stages of AFib, you may have sporadic episodes of arrhythmia that go away on their own. However, AFib is a chronic condition, and over time these episodes become more frequent and pronounced.
No matter the severity or frequency of your AFib, you need regular ongoing care to control symptoms and reduce your risk of serious complications, like heart failure and stroke.
Myth 3: I will know when I have AFib symptoms
Not everyone with AFib has symptoms. Or, if you have symptoms like lightheadedness or fatigue, you may not give much thought that it might be your heart.
AFib symptoms vary. Some people report feeling a fluttering in their chest, while others have heart palpitations and chest pain. Your annual physical exam is the best way to stay on top of your overall health. If you have concerns about heart health, you may benefit from a cardiology consultation with Dr. Paliwal.
Myth 4: AFib isn’t a serious heart condition
You’re not alone if you're under the impression that AFib isn’t a serious heart condition. A majority of people with AFib feel the same as you.
Getting treatment for your AFib can save your life. Your erratic heartbeat allows blood to pool in the upper chamber, increasing your risk of developing a blood clot that may cause a heart attack or stroke.
Myth 5: Exercise is out if I have AFib
Looking for an excuse to skip the gym? Having AFib isn’t a good one.
Yes, you can exercise with AFib, but you need to monitor your heart rate and make sure it stays within a healthy range. We can talk to you about exercising with AFib and how to monitor your heart rate.
Myth 6: A heart attack and stroke are the only complications
Heart attack and stroke are serious health concerns for people with AFib. But these aren't the only potential health complications.
Blood clots may travel to any part of your body, blocking the flow of blood to your lungs, kidneys, or digestive system, not just your heart or brain. Your erratic heartbeat may also put you at risk of developing heart failure, making it hard for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body.
Though AFib is a serious condition, it’s manageable. We offer many innovative treatments for AFib. Let us help you maintain control of your heart arrhythmia. Give us a call at the office most convenient to you today to schedule a consultation.