7 Questions About Atrial Fibrillation Answered

AFib. We hear the word on television and commercials sometimes. It’s a heart condition, but what exactly is it? Chrys Peterson sat down with Kamala Tamirisa, MD, FACC, FHRS, an electrophysiologist with ProMedica Physicians to learn more about this condition, which is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm.

Here are seven common questions about this condition answered by Dr. Tamirisa:

1. What exactly is AFib?

Atrial fibrillation is the rhythm where the top chambers of the heart do not work in synchrony with the bottom chambers and the top chambers quiver where the blood is not emptied and pushed down to the bottom chambers.

2. How would I know if I have AFib?

Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness, passing out spouts or worsening heart failure symptoms. It could, at times, mimic a heart attack.

3. You would know if you are going into atrial fibrillation? Some people talk about heart racing.

Yes, heart racing is a rapid heartbeat or palpitations as patients describe it. Some patients might not have any symptoms but most do with AFib.

4. Can AFib lead to stroke or heart attack if not treated?

Absolutely. Atrial fibrillation can lead to stroke. It’s a very common cause for stroke because the blood pulls in the top chambers and blood clots can form and can flip to the brain. People are at a very high risk for stroke because of AFib.

6. Can AFib be passed down genetically?

There is a component among the AFib patients where we call it as a genetic atrial fibrillation, which is when a father, grandfather, or mother had AFib so then the child is more prone to having AFib. Genetic AFib is there but it is not looked into in depth, we don’t know what kinds of genes contribute to it.

7. Is a heart murmur the same as AFib? Can it lead to AFib?

They can be related. The heart murmur is not atrial fibrillation, a leaking mitral valve can cause atrial fibrillation or make AFib worse or vice versa.

8. How do we treat AFib?

Treatment for AFib is two-fold. One is to help the symptoms and the second is to protect the patient from having a stroke. To protect patients from having a stroke we use blood thinners, it’s very important that the patients with AFib talk with their regular physician about it. How do we cure it? We do a procedure called ablation procedure, at the ProMedica Heart Rhythm Center at ProMedica Toledo Hospital and those procedures have very good outcomes, so it’s very important for the patients to be proactive and ask questions about ablation. There are medications we use before we jump into the ablation procedure. It’s a curable rhythm, it’s important to be proactive, know your symptoms and take an action.

Are you at risk for AFib?

Learn more and download our checklist