Ferncreek Cardiology, PA
Cardiology located in Fayetteville, NC
Atrial fibrillation, the most common heart arrhythmia, causes 15-20% of all strokes. That means each person with atrial fibrillation has a five-times higher risk of stroke than adults who don’t have the condition. At Ferncreek Cardiology, PA, Manesh Thomas, MD, FACC, FSCAI, Matthew Daka, MD, FACC, FSCAI, and Selveratnam Sinna, MD, offer their expertise in diagnosing atrial fibrillation and providing individualized treatment that helps you stay active and enjoy life. If you feel a change in your heartbeat or have shortness of breath or chest pain, call the office in Fayetteville, North Carolina, or schedule an appointment online today.
Atrial Fibrillation Q & A
What is atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia that causes an irregular and rapid heartbeat. When you have atrial fibrillation, the upper two chambers of your heart beat chaotically and get out of sync with the lower chambers. As a result, the lower chambers can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood out to your body.
What causes atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation develops due to electrical system abnormalities or damaged heart muscles. Many health conditions can cause these problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart valve disease
- Clogged arteries (coronary artery disease)
- Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
- Inflamed heart muscles (myocarditis)
- Overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)
Viral infections, congenital heart defects, and earlier heart surgery may also lead to atrial fibrillation.
What symptoms develop due to atrial fibrillation?
It’s possible to have atrial fibrillation and not have any signs. However, most people experience:
- Heart palpitations (racing heart, feeling like your heart is fluttering)
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Some symptoms may only occur when you exercise, eventually affecting your ability to enjoy your usual activities.
Does atrial fibrillation cause complications?
Atrial fibrillation can cause two serious complications: heart failure and deadly blood clots. Untreated atrial fibrillation gradually weakens the heart, which leads to heart failure.
As atrial fibrillation interrupts the flow of blood through your heart, the blood pools in the upper chambers. Slow-moving blood leads to blood clots that can travel to your brain and cause a stroke.
How is atrial fibrillation treated?
Your Ferncreek Cardiology, PA, provider completes a physical exam and performs diagnostic tests such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) and echocardiogram. If an irregular heartbeat doesn’t show up on your EKG, you may need to wear a Holter monitor to record your heartbeat for several days.
After verifying you have atrial fibrillation, your provider develops a customized care plan that treats your arrhythmia and any underlying health conditions that contribute to the problem.
Your treatment plan may include:
- Making dietary changes
- Following an exercise regimen
- Stopping smoking
- Losing weight
- Taking medications
- Pacemaker or defibrillator implantation
- Catheter ablation
You may need medications to prevent blood clots, control your heart rate, or treat conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Depending on your condition, you may need a procedure to treat atrial fibrillation and stop blood clots from leaving the heart. For example, the team at Ferncreek Cardiology, PA, often implants a pacemaker or performs a catheter ablation procedure.
Pacemakers detect an irregular heartbeat and send an electrical signal to restore a normal heartbeat. Your provider uses catheter ablation to eliminate the tissues causing an electrical malfunction.
If you can feel a rapid or irregular heartbeat or develop other heart symptoms, don’t wait to schedule an appointment. Call Ferncreek Cardiology, PA, or use the online booking feature today.