Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation, it's the most common form of heart irregularity. YNN's Marcie Fraser reports on AFIB causes, symptoms and treatment.

Atrial fibrillation, approximately 2.5 million Americans have it. Researchers indicate in the next 40 years that number is going to increase by 6 times, why? Because people are living longer.

"We have all these people are now living to be older, their hearts are being subjected to high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation is one things that happens with an aging heart," said cardiologist, Dr. Andrij Baran.

When atrial fibrillation occurs, the electrical activity of the heart is disorganized, causing an irregular heartbeat which disrupts the flow of blood through the heart.

"When that happens, blood doesn't get pushed through and blood gets stagnant and clots, then the clots fall off, they travel go up to the head and there is your stoke," said Dr. Baran.

Risk factors include people who have valve disease, over active thyroid and high blood pressure Symptoms include sudden reduction in your physical ability, a very erratic pulse, shortness of breath, plus,

Dr. Baran said, "You can start retaining fluids, legs swelling, that is development of congestive heart failure, or fluid spilling into the lungs and you start drowning."

Treatment includes medication or using electricity to slow the heart chambers down.

"Some people we have to give some anesthetic and we then put paddles on, similar to what you see on TV, and we zap the heart and shock it out of the afibrillation. More resistant people we need procedure called ablation where you slide a wire up to heart and try to find the source of afibrillation and zap it,” said Dr. Baran.

Not all people with AFIB have the obvious risk factors, one to consider is sleep apnea.

Dr. Baran said, "Sleep apnea, you may know is when you sleeping the airway closes and you choking and get a surge of adrenalin, adrenalin is irritating to the heart. Do that twenty times an hour when you are sleeping, that is going to precipitate afibrillation."

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