Don't ignore an irregular heartbeat
(NC)—Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heartbeat disorder that affects 350,000 or more Canadians, tripling their risk of stroke. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions on this condition:
What are the symptoms of AF?
Some people may experience no symptoms. Others experience:
• Fast and/or irregular heartbeat;
• Heart palpitations or a rapid thumping in their chest;
• Chest discomfort, chest pain or pressure;
• Shortness of breath, particularly with exertion or anxiety;
• Dizziness, sweating or nausea;
• Light-headedness or fainting.
If you experience these symptoms, visit your doctor.
Should I worry about AF?
When you have AF, the blood does not move properly in your heart and blood clots can form there. These clots can move to other parts of the body, like the brain, and cause serious problems. Clots in your brain block blood flow and oxygen, causing a stroke. People with AF are three to five times more likely than others to have a stroke.
How is AF diagnosed?
The main test is an electrocardiogram (ECG), a painless procedure. Small electrodes are attached to your arms, legs, and chest, and the electrical activity of your heart is charted. Your doctor may want to do additional tests.
How is AF treated?
Most adults living with AF manage it by following a healthy lifestyle and taking prescribed medication to reduce the risk of stroke. For some, additional treatments and procedures may be required. Guidelines for the treatment of AF were updated in 2012 for doctors to better assess and treat patients based on recent discoveries and improved understanding of this condition.
How can I learn more?
Find out more about AF at www.heartandstroke.ca/bepulseaware. While on the site, take a look at a few of the helpful short videos and share them with interested friends and family.
Word count: 297
Articles are provided free of charge. Articles appearing on web sites, must credit www.newscanada.com. Articles appearing in Print, must credit News Canada with (NC) at beginning of an article or – News Canada at the end. Any source/sponsor of the information quoted in the text must also be identified as presented. Images are only to be used with corresponding editorial copy. Usage of News Canada articles constitutes your acceptance of these terms and an agreement between you and News Canada.