Irregular heartbeat: What you should know

Atrial fibrillation, also called AFib or AF, is one of the most common heart problems.

It is an abnormal or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications.

Research has shown that as many as 6 million people in the U.S. and 33 million people worldwide have AFib, but the exact cause of which is generally unknown.

As people age, they are more likely to have AFib.

One theory is that age-related changes in the heart, such as tissue changes called fibrosis, produce the arrhythmia. There also may be a genetic component.

According to Dr. Christopher Rogers, a cardiologist at Penn State Health Medical Group ― Berks Cardiology, AFib is more prevalent among Caucasians than Hispanics or African-Americans and more frequent in men than women.

While Hispanic people have more risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes and obesity, they tend to develop AFib less frequently.

Common AFib symptoms may include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue.

Its risk factors include high blood pressure, sleep apnea, obesity, tobacco and alcohol abuse, and diabetes.

AF can be very frustrating for the patient and physician to take care of as there is no cure.

But people can manage the symptoms and do certain things to control it.

The most important thing is protecting against a stroke and controlling the heart rate.

Stroke as a result of AFib is the largest problem, and determining a patient’s stroke risks is essential.

Treatment options for symptoms range from heart rate and rhythm control medications to cardiac ablation, which is a procedure to remodel heart tissue that allows incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm.

The expert warns that AF is not a condition that people can simply cure. It takes multiple approaches and perseverance to treat an individual appropriately.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent heart disease and AF.

He suggests exercise, a healthy diet, weight control, avoiding caffeine or other stimulants and managing high blood pressure and cholesterol.

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