As we begin the month of October, let us remember the reasons we continue to reflect on September, and why National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month is so important. Learn the warning signs of this serious condition.
Atrial Fibrillation or AFIB is a rapid and irregular heart rhythm that can cause the heart to beat erratically, sometimes as fast as 200 beats per minute.
Shocking statistics released by the Heart Rhythm Society reveal that AFIB can increase the risk of stroke by 500 percent.
In a recent interview electrophysiologist Dr. Hugh Calkins, current Heart Rhythm Society Vice-President and Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, discussed AFIB and the specific individuals that are normally more susceptible to this condition.
“Atrial Fibrillation is a very common condition,” explained Dr. Calkins. “It’s pretty rare before you’re fifty,” he continued. “Once you hit fifty it starts to become more common.”
According to Dr. Calkins, “By the time you’re eighty, one in 10 people have AFIB.”
Although AFIB is a common condition, many people know little about it, and how it affects the body.
“We know that certain people are at greater risk of Atrial Fibrillation,” said Dr. Calkins. “For example,” he continued, “Atrial Fibrillation is more common in men than women. It’s more common in whites than blacks. It’s more common if you’re very tall, than short. It’s more common if you’re obese than skinny. It’s more common if you have other heart disease than if you don’t.”
Other risk factors include:diabetes, heart problems, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, thyroid disease, chronic lung disease, sleep apnea, excessive alcohol or stimulant use, serious illness or infection.
One of the best ways to detect AFIB is to maintain your yearly physical exams, especially after the age of 50, because there may be no warnings signs leading to this condition.
“When someone goes in for a routine physical exam, commonly they’ll get an EKG and have their pulse checked, and if that shows evidence of Atrial Fibrillation, that’s one way it’s detected,” said Dr. Calkins.
Sometimes symptoms such as fatigue, heart palpitations, heart racing or light-headedness may lead a person to seek medical advice, and then they discover that they have AFIB.
Listen to a recent interview with Dr. Calkins on the Perfect World Network with Partners in Health host Gail Dixon.
For more information, order the Johns Hopkins Guide to Atrial Fibrillation Special Editon free report.