Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is a serious heart condition affecting many people in the U.S., in which upper and lower chambers of the heart do not work together properly. Afib may occur from time to time, or it may become a frequent problem that requires evaluation and treatment. If you or someone you love has Afib, arming yourself with the facts can help make sense of this heart condition. With effective treatment, a person with Afib can live an active, full life. Take this quiz to find out how much you know about Afib.
Chronic Illness is an illness or disease that is long-term or permanent, as opposed to acute or terminal. These illnesses must be managed on a day-to-day basis. Some examples are hypertension, asthma, diabetes, depression and anxiety, some forms of cancer, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lups, cerebral palsy, emphysema, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, Celiac Disease, Parkinson’s, and different forms of arthritis.Some patients have a combination of several diseases simultaneously, which can make an already tense situation, feel unbearable.
Having atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, can be frightening. It can make you anxious and depressed. You might worry when your next episode will occur or if you’ll have a stroke. An article in the issue of Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology noted that 38 percent of people with atrial fibrillation met the criteria for depression. That’s significantly higher than the general population. But there’s no need for anyone to stay depressed or anxious about this common heart arrhythmia. Here’s how you can lift your mood and stay mentally sharp when you have afib.
The more you know about atrial fibrillation, afib, the better you’ll be able to handle it. “Part of what engenders a sense of hopelessness in atrial fibrillation patients is misinformation about their disease,” said Peter Kowey, MD, an electrophysiologist with Main Line Health Lankenau Heart Group in Wynnewood, PA. Knowing how to recognize symptoms, and what to do should you have an episode of atrial fibrillation, is empowering.
Heart problems such as atrial fibrillation (AF), a type of arrhythmia, can result in serious complications, including a heart attack or stroke. But there are many steps you can take to keep your heart in good shape — even if you already have an irregular heartbeat from atrial fibrillation.
Work with your cardiologist or electrophysiologist to find a treatment for your atrial fibrillation that’s right for you. You and your doctor will determine your treatment based the cause, the frequency and type of symptoms, and risk for stroke. “Taking charge of your condition by working with your doctor can make you feel better not only physically but emotionally as well,” said Lawrence Santora, MD, cardiologist and medical director of the Dick Butkus Center for Cardiac Testing and Cardiac Rehabilitation at Saint Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA.
Try these 10 tips for a stronger, healthier heart:
- Avoid stimulants.
- Keep your weight in check.
- Stick to a healthy, low-sodium diet.
- Get regular exercise.
- Keep stress under control.
- Manage your cholesterol levels.
- Control your diabetes.
- Limit your drinking.
- Quit smoking.
- Get an annual flu shot.
Many of the above steps are good for preventing heart disease and, thus will reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation, explains Tomaselli. If you already have heart disease or other heart problems, making healthier choices can still help reduce your risk. “Atrial fibrillation frequently occurs in individuals who have existing heart disease, so risk factor control can reduce the risk for future cardiovascular events,” says Sorrentino. Incorporate these heart-healthy habits into your lifestyle and work with your doctor for more ways to prevent and manage atrial fibrillation.
People can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after they’re exposed to a dangerous situation, which can include a medical emergency. That means, said Weiss, that “if you have PTSD and go back to the hospital where you were treated for atrial fibrillation, it can make you start to feel very anxious and stressed all over again.” So instead of going to the hospital for blood tests or treatment, arrange to see your doctor at a satellite office. Medication also can help those with PTSD and atrial fibrillation. “Medication is usually an anti-depressant, but your doctor has to choose one that won’t cause arrhythmias.”