“Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is like your heart being stuck in fourth gear,” said Jason Lappe, MD, cardiologist at Asheville Cardiology Associates, an affiliate of Mission Health. “It may be operating fast, but your heart’s output is reduced by 20 percent.”
Understand your risk – take our AFib quiz and review the answers below to see how much you know about AFib.
1. True or False: Most people diagnosed with AFib say their heart is racing or pounding.
2. What factors can increase your risk for AFib?
a. Age b. High blood pressure c. Obesity and excessive alcohol d. Chronic conditions like lung disease, heart disease, diabetes or sleep apnea e. All of the above
3. True or False: Atrial fibrillation increases your risk of heart attack.
4. What is the most effective treatment for AFib?
a. Cardiac rehabilitation b. Medicine c. Exercise d. Ablation
1. False. Most patients see their doctors due to extreme fatigue. In addition to tiredness and heart flutters, others experience lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath, inability to exercise or chest pain.
2. e. All of the above. Changing your lifestyle choices can decrease your risk of AFib. Since women normally live longer than men do, more women have AFib.
3. False. People with AFib are at four to five times greater risk of stroke than others. When your heart beats irregularly, blood can pool or clot. A stroke can happen when a clot traveling through your bloodstream blocks oxygen-enriched blood from reaching your brain. Medications can help reduce the risks of stroke.
4. d. Ablation. Studies show a heart procedure known as ablation is the most effective treatment. Heart tissue responsible for causing the malfunction is destroyed to allow the heart to beat properly. Another option is medicine. AFib should be managed for reduced risk of stroke and better quality of life.
Jason Lappe, MD, is a cardiologist at Asheville Cardiology Associates, an affiliate of Mission Health. Learn more about heart services and care with Mission Health at missionhealth.org/heart.