Atrial fibrillation, better known as AFib, is the most common type of heart arrhythmia (a)n abnormal or irregular heartbeat. AFib affects almost three million Americans, according to the American Heart Association. The symptoms of AFib are often described as a quivering or fluttering feeling in the chest.
Dignity Health’s Chandler Regional Medical Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center are nationally recognized as leaders in heart and vascular care, offering a full range of diagnostic assessments and treatments. To learn more about how we treat atrial fibrillation in Arizona, Find a Doctor at a location near you.
It’s important to know that not everyone with AFib will experience noticeable symptoms. The symptoms of AFib include:
- Feeling of fluttering in the chest
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Becoming easily fatigued during exercise
You should call 911 if you have chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack.
Many people do not know they have AFib until their doctor finds it during a routine physical examination. This is why regular checkups are so important for catching heart disease, before it progresses. The symptoms of AFib can be occasional, persistent, or permanent.
If the heart’s electrical system is damaged, it can cause the heart’s signals to change from being consistent to rapid and disorganized. This type of damage may be caused by a variety of medical conditions, including:
Risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing AFib include:
- Family history of AFib
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
- Older age
- Medical conditions, including sleep apnea, diabetes, and thyroid and lung disease
If you visit Dignity Health for AFib symptoms, a cardiologist may conduct one or more diagnostic tests to evaluate your heart. These include:
Treatment for AFib will depend on how well your heart performs during a diagnostic assessment. Your doctor can customize your care based on your preferences.
AFib Treatment at Dignity Health
If you have been diagnosed with AFib, a cardiologist at Dignity Health will focus on preventing the formation of blood clots by controlling your heart rate.
Specifically, treatment for AFib may include resetting the rhythm of your heart. This can be done in several ways, including:
- Medication (c)hemical or pharmacologic cardioversion
- Mild electrical shocks while you are sedated (electrical cardioversion)
- Surgery to destroy tissue that is causing abnormal signals (c)atheter ablation, or to disperse the signals (maze surgery)
If these treatments are not successful, your cardiologist can recommend other medicines to manage your symptoms.
Dignity Health provides advanced cardiovascular care to treat all forms of AFib in Arizona, as part of our cardiology services.