Medical Minute – Atrial Fibrillation

It’s estimated that between 3 million and 6 million people in the United States live with AFIB, Atrial Fibrillation, is the most common type of heart arrhythmia.

An arrhythmia is when the heart beats too slowly, too fast, or in an irregular way.

When a person has AFib, the normal beating in the upper chambers of the heart (the two atria) is irregular, and blood doesn’t flow as well as it should from the atria to the lower chambers of the heart (the two ventricles).

AFib may occur in brief episodes, or it may be a permanent condition. Some people who have AFib don’t know they have it and don’t have any symptoms. Others may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

• Irregular heartbeat
• Heart palpitations (rapid, fluttering, or pounding)
• Lightheadedness
• Extreme fatigue
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain

A new study says that AFIB may cause more disease issues than previously thought. Long tied to stroke, a report in the British MedicalJournal also ties AFIB to increased risk of heart attack and kidney failure.

Dr. Kiran Kancherla, Director of Cardiology at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital explains what you need to know if you have AFIB.