Some people experience palpitations — a racing heartbeat, or a feeling of heavy, fast, irregular heartbeats. You may feel weak, or lightheaded, or dizzy. These feelings may be constant, or they may come and go. If these symptoms are not the result of a roller coaster ride, or an exciting new love, they are cause for concern, because these irregular heartbeats can indicate a condition known as atrial fibrillation, or AFib.
A Cardiologist at St. Luke’s Heart and Vascular Center says, “Many people who have AFib won’t experience any symptoms at all, which is one reason to have regular physical exams that include an electrocardiogram, especially as you get older. (The chances of having AFib increase as you age.) High blood pressure, abnormal heart valves, and coronary artery disease can also cause AFib.”
The Cardiologist goes on, “To treat AFib, the goal is to reset the heart’s rhythm. This is called cardioversion, and can be accomplished either electrically, or with medicine. It’s important to correct AFib, because when your heartbeat is irregular, you are at a much higher risk for stroke. Why? The reason is that when your heart chambers are not working optimally, blood can pool in them. Pooled blood can clot; the clot can be pushed out with the rest of the blood, end up in your brain, and you can have a stroke.”
Remember the acronym FAST for the symptoms of a stroke: F: Face drooping on one side; A: one Arm weak or numb; S: slurred Speech. T, the final letter, is Time: if someone is showing any of these signs, it’s time to call 911.