© 2024 WXPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Doctors Address Rise of AFib: A Serious, Maybe Invisible Cardiac Issue

Debbe McCall/Twitter

Wisconsin News Connection ishere.
MADISON, Wis. - September is AFib Awareness Month.
Dr. Kelly McDonnell, a cardiac electrophysiologist from SSM Health, said doctors are seeing more AFib, which worries them because having this condition makes a stroke many times more likely. McDonnell said it's a quivering or irregular heartbeat in the top chambers of the heart that might feel like a fish flopping in your chest.
"So, instead of someone having the normal 'lub-dub, lub-dub,' some patients will describe a sensation of feeling a flipping and flopping in their chest," she said. "Some people may experience lightheadedness, dizziness, weakness. Unfortunately, not every patient has symptoms."
McDonnell said a doctor may use an electrocardiogram to test for it. Risk of AFib can rise with age, high blood pressure and other heart conditions, she said, as well as alcohol use, high cholesterol and sleep apnea. Treatment may require blood thinners or just general heart health improvements through things such as weight loss. She said it's important not to ignore, because it can dramatically increase a person's risk of stroke.
"When you go from a normal pumping heart to an abnormal rhythm, the top chambers of the heart tend to quiver and shake, which leads to an environment where the blood can clot," she said. "If clots form in the heart, they can break off and cause strokes."
About 5 million people in the United States have AFib. Much more information is on the American Heart Association's website, heart.org.

Up North Updates
* indicates required
Related Content