Doctor drawing heart

Understanding A-fib

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib or AF) is an irregular and typically rapid heartbeat that causes poor blood flow in the body. Symptoms include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, tiredness and weakness. These symptoms range anywhere from occasional to chronic.

Detection/diagnosis

The most common method of detection is to feel your pulse for an unusual rhythm. There are also a number of tests your doctor might order:

  • EKG: recording of the heart’s electrical activity. The test is easy and pain-free, lasting anywhere from 1-10 minutes.
  • Blood tests: A-fib can develop from other diseases, such as a thyroid gland problem. Blood tests are often ordered to detect these underlying causes.
  • Rhythm monitoring: You may be asked to wear a Holter monitor, which is strapped to your chest and records your heart rhythm for several days.

Treatment

Some lifestyle changes can help manage AF and lower your risk for heart disease:

  • Follow a heart-healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol.
  • Don’t use tobacco products of any kind.
  • Be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit alcohol consumption or avoid it completely.
  • Take medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Have symptoms?

Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms or sudden changes. Treatment is more effective with early detection. Schedule a screening with a cardiologist today!