Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-Fib) is the most common abnormal heart rhythm. The condition can severely impact a person’s quality of life, causing heart palpitations, chronic fatigue and pain, in addition increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke. A-Fib affects nearly 3 million Americans, and the risk for developing the condition increases with age.
In a normal heart, the four chambers of the heart beat in a steady, rhythmic pattern. A-Fib causes the upper chambers of the heart (atria) to quiver or twitch rapidly (fibrillate) in an irregular, disorganized rhythm. The atria may beat as often as 300 times per minute – about four times faster than normal.
When A-Fib occurs, instead of one electrical impulse moving through the heart, many impulses begin in the atria. This happens as a result of the structure of the heart and its electrical system changing over time as we age.
As the electrical pathway changes during the aging process, one or more “triggers” may develop, causing the development of electrical circuits which send extra impulses to the heart muscle at a faster than normal rate. These extra electrical signals cause the heart to beat in a fast, disorganized and inefficient way, making it more difficult for blood to be pumped efficiently. With the blood supply moving more slowly throughout the body, the chances for a blood clot to form are increased. If a blood clot is pumped out of the heart and travels to the brain, it can cause a stroke.
Without treatment, A-Fib can also make the heart beat too fast for long periods of time, causing the heart muscle to become weak. This condition is called cardiomyopathy and can lead to heart failure and result in long-term disability and/or death.
Summa Health System offers patients a comprehensive atrial fibrillation program staffed by specially trained electrophysiologists who can effectively treat and manage the condition.
The program is designed to:
- Improve the patient’s quality of life
- Reduce the number of ER visits, hospitalizations and/or readmissions
- Reduce the risk of adverse events and complications associated with complex medication regimens
- Encourage patients to become an active partner with their physician as it relates to a treatment plan
To learn more about our A-Fib Program, call (800) 237-8662 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.