I’m no lawyer, but I’m about to take on the case of atrial fibrillation misinformation! Some of the things I read on the internet would literally stop my heart…if I didn’t know better.
First, just a little background.
Close to 3 million people in the U.S. live with these irregular heartbeats called Atrial Fibrillation.
Commonly called “A-Fib,” this is an irregular and often fast heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.
Unfortunately, it’s one of the most widely misunderstood conditions of heart disease. See for yourself. how the case of atrial fibrillation misinformation happens, taken right out of patient’s mouths.
1. “If I can’t feel it, I don’t have it“
This is one of the most commonly expressed beliefs we hear from patients about atrial fibrillation. And, it’s just not true.
While some people may not display any physical symptoms for some time, the damage is still being done.
However, just so you know, these are the most common signs and symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation:
- Palpitations, which are sensations of a racing, uncomfortable, irregular heartbeat or a flip-flopping in your chest
- Reduced ability to exercise
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
An EKG is a way to confirm this diagnosis, not how you “feel.”
2. Only older people get Atrial Fibrillation
Atrial Fibrillation can strike at any age, but it’s most often diagnosed in the elderly. That does not mean you don’t have it, just that you don’t know about it yet.
It is an irregular (and often very fast) heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. Although it’s a common belief that Atrial Fibrillation is the result of heart disease, that’s not always the case.
- 30-45% of cases of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation and 20-25% of cases of Persistent Atrial Fibrillation happen in younger patients without heart disease or any heart defects.
3. Atrial Fibrillation only affects the heart
This is not true. While Atrial Fibrillation is a condition of the heart, we can’t overlook the threat it presents to the brain.
4. Among the most incorrect beliefs covered in the case of Atrial Fibrillation misinformation is that there is a cure for it.
- There are treatments, but that’s not the same as a “cure.” The symptoms may return.
Some people can be “treated” for Atrial Fibrillation with procedures that return their heartbeat to a normal rhythm.
- Cardioversion is usually done by sending electrical shocks to your heart (through electrodes placed on your chest), which stops the abnormal rhythm. In some cases, it can also be done with certain medications.
- Cardiac Ablation may also be successful. It can scar or destroy the tissue in the heart responsible for the irregular rhythm.
In some cases, it can prevent abnormal electrical signals from entering your heart, thereby preventing the irregular rhythm from happening in the first place.
However, some people have a permanent condition of Atrial Fibrillation and it requires trying a variety of medications, such as blood thinners and beta-blockers to cut the risk of stroke and procedures.
- Beta-blockers cause your heart to beat more slowly, and with less force, which then lowers your blood pressure.
- They improve blood flow through your heart by causing the blood vessels to open.
5. “If you get atrial fibrillation, your life may as well be over.”
Yikes! That is SO not true!
With good medical care (choose your doctors well and see a specialist for any heart condition) your prognosis is absolutely positive.
I hope this resolves some of the questions you’ve had while wading through the case of Atrial Fibrillation Misinformation.
But, if you still have questions, feel free to contact me by using the “Get In Touch” link on the top menu, or leave a comment in the section at the bottom of this page.