Dr. Fawaz Alhumaid, a cardiologist specializing in electrophysiology at Adventist Health’s Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular, joined AM Northwest to share what you might not know about a heart condition called Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).
What is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)?
For the heart to work normally, electrical signals travel through the heart’s tissue in a very specific and accurate way.
Atrial Fibrillation, also known as AFib, is an arrhythmia where disruption in the flow of electrical signals leads to an abnormal heartbeat. It usually leads to an erratic and rapid pulse.
More than five million Americans have atrial fibrillation.
Risk factors for AFib include obesity, high blood pressure, lung disease (some of which caused by smoking), presence of other forms of heart disease, and excessive consumption of alcohol.
Palpitations or a sensation of irregular heartbeat is a common symptom of AFib, but it is not always present. Other symptoms include excessive fatigue, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath especially with exertion.
In addition to the symptoms above, if untreated, atrial fibrillation can lead to serious conditions, like a stroke or heart failure (weakening of the heart muscle).
Treatment for atrial fibrillation includes medications, and in some cases, procedures that can restore and maintain the heart’s normal rhythm.
The risk of developing AFib can be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding excessive alcohol intake. It’s also important to treat high blood pressure, breathing conditions like sleep apnea, or other heart conditions.