Any person, ranging from children to adults, can develop atrial fibrillation (AFib). Because the likelihood of AFib increases with age and people are living longer today, medical researchers predict the number of AFib cases will rise dramatically over the next few years. Even though AFib clearly increases the risks of heart-related death and stroke, many patients do not fully recognize the potentially serious consequences.
What is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF)?
Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.
What are the consequences of atrial fibrillation (AFib)?
Although atrial fibrillation can feel weird and frightening, an “attack of AFib” usually doesn’t have harmful consequences by itself. The real danger is the increased risk for stroke. Even when symptoms are not noticeable, AFib can increase a person’s risks for stroke and related heart problems.
How is atrial fibrillation diagnosed?
We have various tools to diagnose atrial fibrillation, including using an echocardiogram or an echocardiography stress test.
An echocardiogram is a test of the action of the heart using ultrasound waves to produce a visual display, used for the diagnosis or monitoring of heart disease. This is a non-invasive test that looks through the chest wall getting images of the heart.
An echocardiography stress test, sometime referred to as a stress echo, is a procedure that determines how well your heart and blood vessels are working. During a stress echocardiography, you’ll exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike while your doctor monitors your blood pressure and heart rhythm.