If you have recently has an EKG and your doctor has told you that you have atrial fibrillation, then you may be scared about this diagnosis. This can be scary and you may have a wide variety of questions that you want to be answered. Thankfully, your cardiologist can help you to understand the problem a bit better. However, before you meet with the heart professional, find out about the answers to a few common questions.
Why Is Atrial Fibrillation Dangerous?
Atrial fibrillation is a condition where the atria of the heart do not contract with a regular rhythm. They may contract either slower or faster and this is sometimes referred to as a quiver. When the atria contract like this, you may feel as though your heart has skipped a beat. A racing heart or a feeling that you are unable to catch your breath are signs of the condition as well.
The abnormal heart rhythm is dangerous because the upper chambers of the heart are simply not contracting as fully as they should. This allows blood to remain pooled in the chambers and this can lead to blood clots. If the blood clots are able to move out of the heart, then you may experience a stroke or a pulmonary embolism. The clot can lodge in one of the blood vessels leading out of the heart as well and this can contribute to heart failure.
Abnormal heart rhythms will reduce the blood supply that your heart is able to pump as well and this limits the amount of oxygen that your tissues are able to receive.
How Is Atrial Fibrillation Treated?
Your cardiologist will help to come up with a treatment plan that works for you. Most commonly, you will be provided with medications that help to return your heart to a normal rhythm and that also prevent blood clots from forming. Calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, and blood thinners are likely to be prescribed.
You may also be asked to follow a heart-healthy diet and exercise regimen. This includes a low salt diet that contains little to no red meat. Also, you should participate in aerobic exercise often.
Keep in mind that medications and lifestyle changes may not completely return the heart to a normal rhythm, so your cardiologist will want to check your heart often for signs of an abnormality. Be prepared to make regular appointments and to undergo tests like EKGs.
If you want to know more about atrial fibrillation or any other type of heart issue, speak with a cardiology specialist.