Atrial Fibrillation: What You Need to Know

U.S. President Joe Biden lives with atrial fibrillation, a heart condition increasing stroke risk fivefold and doubling heart attack and dementia risks. Shockingly, over 37.5 million people globally are unaware they have atrial fibrillation.

This common heart rhythm disorder affects all ages, causing irregular heartbeats that can be fast or slow. While more common with age, some develop it in their 30s and 40s, originating in the heart’s top chambers, impacting effective blood pumping and leading to severe health complications.

Symptoms vary; some experience palpitations, breathlessness, or discomfort during episodes, disrupting daily activities. Others show no symptoms, making detection challenging.

Consulting a GP for symptoms or suspicions is essential. Tests like electrocardiograms (ECGs) assess heart electrical activity, facilitating timely intervention.

Managing risks, especially heightened stroke risk, is crucial for diagnosed individuals. Lifestyle changes, including alcohol reduction, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular exercise, enhance overall health. Treatment plans may involve blood-thinning medications, heart rhythm control drugs, or ablation procedures targeting atrial fibrillation’s electrical origin.

Over three in five with atrial fibrillation also have high blood pressure, a significant cause of strokes and heart attacks. Collaborating with healthcare providers for effective blood pressure control reduces stroke risks.

Early intervention is vital, especially for those at the highest risk. Strokes, heart attacks, and dementia remain leading global causes of death, emphasizing proactive prevention measures.

Prevention is key, and if suspecting atrial fibrillation or concerned about heart health, reaching out to healthcare providers is advised. Prompt action today leads to a healthier tomorrow, underscoring the significance of heart care and overall well-being.

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