I Have Afib…Now What?
Your doctor recently told you that you have atrial fibrillation, or Afib. So what does that mean? What do you have to do now? Rest assured, this is not a dangerous problem, but it does need to be addressed.
First, you’re probably wondering… “what is Afib?” That can be a very long answer, but in short… It is the most common abnormal heart rhythm, affecting millions of people. The top chambers of the heart don’t contract normally, but rather just quiver. This can cause many different potential symptoms as well as other issues.
What do you need to do?
The biggest risk of Afib is the risk of stroke. Patients with Afib are at higher risk of having a stroke in the future. Depending on your other medical problems, you may be at very high risk for a stroke as well. You may need blood thinners to reduce the risk of stroke (you’ve probably seen the TV commercials for these blood thinners). There are also procedures that can be done to reduce your risk of stroke. There are also treatment options that are mostly centered around making you feel better but also in preventing long-term consequences of Afib. These treatment options include medicines or procedures to keep you in a normal rhythm and prevent Afib.
What should you do now?
Your doctor may refer to you a cardiologist or a cardiac electrophysiologist, who specializes in treating abnormal heart rhythms. They will most likely talk to you about your risk of stroke and possibly starting you on a blood thinner. They will also talk to you about the other treatment options. You should make sure that you fully understand all the treatment options so you can make the best decision for yourself.
Anything else you can do?
There are risk factors for Afib that you can address on your own. Being overweight, smoking, and excessive alcohol use are all major risk factors for Afib that will need to be addressed. If those apply to you, then you can work on fixing those risk factors, and doing so may improve the success rates of managing your new diagnosis.
If you have further questions, feel free to come see us at The Afib Clinic for more information.