Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common type of heart arrhythmia. When AFib goes untreated, you’re at risk of developing serious complications, such as a stroke. The experienced doctors at Naples Heart Rhythm Specialists, P.A., are experts in treating AFib, and they provide compassionate and comprehensive care designed to control your heartbeat and prevent future problems. At the first sign of a rapid or irregular heartbeat, call one of the three convenient locations in Naples, Florida, or schedule an appointment online.
AFib is a heart rhythm disorder that develops when abnormal electrical activity makes the heart’s two upper chambers fibrillate (beat irregularly). When the heart’s electrical system works properly, the muscles contract in a regular, precise order that pushes blood through your heart. As the upper chambers (atria) start to fibrillate, their quivering and chaotic movement prevent normal blood flow.
AFib typically develops when heart tissues are damaged due to:
You’re more likely to develop AFib if you have a family history of the condition, and if you’re diagnosed with chronic health conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea and diabetes.
When you have AFib, blood moves slowly and less efficiently through the four chambers of your heart, allowing blood to pool and form blood clots. A clot can travel out of the heart and become lodged in arteries throughout your body, where it partially or completely blocks blood flow.
The most serious complication of AFib occurs when a clot reaches arteries in your brain and causes a stroke. Patients with AFib may also have a higher chance of developing heart failure, impaired cognition, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia.
You may not have any symptoms, but for many patients, the earliest sign of AFib is a fluttering feeling in their chest when the atrial muscles quiver. You may also experience symptoms such as:
Depending on the type of AFib you have, your symptoms may come and go or become constant. They can also last less than 24 hours or persist for a year or longer.
After performing a thorough physical examination, your doctor at Naples Heart Rhythm Specialists, P.A., conducts diagnostic tests, such as blood work, an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, or electrophysiology studies. You may also undergo a stress test or wear a Holter monitor to record your heart activity over 24 hours or longer.
The goals of AFib treatment are to prevent blood clots and control your heart rate and rhythm. You may receive one of several types of medications that thin your blood and help control your heart rate.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms and your response to conservative therapies, your cardiologist may recommend a procedure to restore normal heart rhythm, such as a catheter ablation, electrical cardioversion, or pacemaker implantation.
At the first sign of atrial fibrillation, call Naples Heart Rhythm Specialists, P.A., or schedule an appointment online.