Atrial Fibrillation, commonly known as AFib, is a common heart rhythm disorder affecting millions worldwide. It is characterized by an irregular and rapid heartbeat that can lead to serious health problems such as stroke, heart failure and even death. Whether you are experiencing AFib symptoms or are seeking information for a loved one, it is crucial to learn more about AFib to take control of your health and live a full life.
What Causes AFib?
AFib occurs when the electrical impulses that control the heart's rhythm become irregular. This can cause the heart to beat too fast, too slow or in an uneven pattern. The underlying causes of AFib can include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Chronic lung disease
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Sleep apnea
- Overactive thyroid
- Genetic factors
- Heart valve disease
- Certain medications
What Foods Trigger AFib, and How Can You Control Your Diet Accordingly?
Certain foods and drinks can trigger AFib in some people. These include:
- Caffeine-containing beverages such as coffee, tea and energy drinks
- Alcohol, especially red wine
- Fatty and fried foods
- Foods high in sugar
To control AFib triggers through your diet, limiting or avoiding these foods and drinks is important. You should also aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. If you are unsure which foods may trigger your AFib, consider keeping a food diary to track your symptoms and what you eat.
How to tell if you have an AFib condition?
Many people discover they have AFib when they experience symptoms, including:
- Heart fluttering or pounding in their chest
- Shortness of breath or feeling tired
- Chest pain
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Weakness or reduced ability to exercise
Many others have AFib picked up incidentally by their doctors during an examination. Some do not know that they have AFib until they have a stroke. [P]AFib is diagnosed through a medical evaluation, including a physical examination and medical history review. Additional tests may also be performed to determine the presence and severity of AFib.
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What is the Best Treatment for AFib?
The best treatment for AFib will depend on each individual and the severity of their condition.
Get a Diagnosis
AFib is most effectively treated early. The earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better. AFib is much less likely to cause additional problems if identified early and properly treated.
Improve Your Lifestyle
The best AFib treatment involves lifestyle adjustment and targeted electrophysiologic therapy.
Visit a Heart Rhythm Specialist
Patients with AFib should see a heart rhythm specialist, commonly known as a cardiac electrophysiologist, who has subspecialty training in heart rhythm problems and is specially trained in treating the causes of AFib.
What are the Surgery Options?
For many people, this treatment involves a minimally invasive procedure called an ablation. An ablation is the targeted destruction of the heart tissue that is causing the arrhythmia, done with small thin tubes called catheters that are advanced to the heart from intravenous lines in the groin.
AFib ablation is the most effective treatment of AFib. It can reduce AFib by approximately 90% in many patients, especially patients diagnosed with AFib relatively recently. This contrasts with medications, which can reduce AFib by only 30 to 40%.
Are You Experiencing Symptoms of AFib?
AFib is a serious condition that can impact a person's health and quality of life. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are essential for managing the symptoms of AFib and reducing the risk of complications. If you are experiencing symptoms of AFib, it is important to seek medical attention and discuss your treatment options with your healthcare provider.
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