34 THE QUEENS COURIER • HEALTH • APRIL 4, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
How to Reduce Health Risks by Understanding AFib
Oft entimes, seeking to improve your
health starts at your core - your heart.
One common condition to be aware of is
atrial fi brillation (AFib), which is a quivering
or irregular heartbeat that can lead
to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and
other heart-related complications.
Currently impacting up to 6.1 million
Americans, AFib is projected to double
by 2030, according to the American
Heart Association. One in three individuals
is at risk for developing AFib over
the course of his or her lifetime, and the
likelihood of developing the condition
increases by almost 40 percent aft er the
age of 55.
Th e average person living with AFib
has a fi ve-fold increase of experiencing
a stroke than someone with a regular
heartbeat. However, proper diagnosis and
treatment can help reduce the chances
of associated heart health complications,
Th e fi rst step toward managing AFib
and preventing serious health complications
is gaining knowledge about the condition.
Th e experts at the American Heart
Association are working to elevate awareness
with these facts:
While in some cases the cause is
unknown, AFib can be the result of damage
to the heart’s electrical system from
other conditions such as longstanding,
uncontrolled high blood pressure, obesity,
smoking and heart disease. For example,
smokers are 20 percent more likely to
develop AFib than nonsmokers.
Symptoms and signs
A person living with AFib may have
symptoms like a fl uttering heartbeat, but
he or she may not have symptoms at all.
Nearly 80 percent of people who report
having AFib note they did not experience
symptoms, which can lead to the condition
being overlooked or confused with
other conditions, such as anxiety.
“Atrial fi brillation can be challenging to
diagnose,” said Dr. Georgeanne Freeman,
a board-certifi ed family medicine doctor
and American Heart Association volunteer
expert. “If you are feeling out of the
ordinary, whether it’s a racing pulse or
irregular heartbeat associated with shortness
of breath and fatigue, it’s time to
speak with your doctor to learn your
risk for AFib and lower your chance for
Other common symptoms include dizziness,
weakness, faintness or confusion;
fatigue when exercising; sweating and
chest pain or pressure.
Anyone, at any age, can develop AFib.
People over age 50, those with high blood
pressure or other forms of heart disease
and those with a family history of the condition
are at highest risk and should discuss
their medical history with their doctors.
People of African, Asian or Hispanic
ancestry are typically less likely to suffer
from AFib. However, research suggests
that those with African or Hispanic
ancestry living with AFib have a higher
risk of death when the condition is combined
with another factor such as heart
failure or high blood pressure.
While some people living with AFib are
unaware of the condition due to not experiencing
symptoms, it causes the heart to
beat erratically, stops blood from moving
through the heart effi ciently and may
result in pooling or clotting. Th e clot
may block blood fl ow to the brain, causing
a stroke. Risk factors such as age, high
blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes or
medical history contribute to individuals’
fi ve-fold risk of stroke.
Although most primary care providers
claim to have general knowledge of AFib,
there are still challenges in their abilities
to diagnose it. Th e treatment goals
start with a proper diagnosis through an
in-depth examination performed by a
medical professional, health care provider
or cardiologist. Th e exam usually includes
questions about the individual’s medical
history and oft en a test such as an EKG
or ECG to determine heart rate, rhythm
and other information. If you have AFib,
understand your options for medications
and discuss with your doctor. Anyone on
anticoagulants should carry information
and be able to alert medical professionals
in an emergency that he or she is on
To learn more and to access AFib tools
and resources, visit heart.org/AFib.
Courtesy Family Features