Atrial Fibrillation Awareness
September marks National Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Awareness Month, a critically important time to raise awareness for this life-threatening arrhythmia. A racing, pounding heartbeat that happens for no apparent reason should not be ignored, especially when other symptoms are also present, like shortness of breath with light physical activity or lightheadedness, dizziness, or unusual fatigue. AFib is an irregular heartbeat or a condition in which the heart muscles fail to contract in a strong, rhythmic way. When a heart is in AFib, it may not be pumping enough oxygen-rich blood out to the body.
Any person who has AFib needs to evaluate stroke risks and determine with a healthcare provider what must be done to lower the risks. Studies show that many people with AFib who need risk-lowering treatments are not getting them. There are people who have atrial fibrillation that do not experience any symptoms. These people may be diagnosed at a regular check-up or their AFib may be discovered when a healthcare provider listens to their heart for some other reason.
However, people who have AFib with no symptoms still have a five-times-greater risk of stroke. Everyone needs to receive regular medical check-ups to help keep risks low and live a long and healthy life.