Afib is the most common kind of arrhythmia or irregular heart rhythm. It is a progressive, chronic condition that may get worse without treatment but can be treated effectively. Afib affects approximately 350,000 Canadians.
Atrial refers to the top two chambers of the heart, known as the atria. The atria are designed to send blood efficiently and rhythmically into the ventricles by way of regular electrical signals. The ventricles then pump the blood to the rest of the body. In Afib, the electrical signals are rapid, irregular and disorganized and the heart may not pump efficiently. Afib increases the risk of stroke significantly.
Often the cause is not known, but Afib is more common in older people. Other risk factors include:
Some people with Afib feel perfectly fine and may not even know they have the condition until they have a routine electrocardiogram. Others experience symptoms such as:
If your pulse is fast and your heartbeat irregular, your doctor may have you checked for Afib. The process may include:
You can live a long, healthy life if your Afib is well managed. Be sure to see your doctor regularly.
What you can do:
What your doctor may do: