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Afib Facts

Welcome Snow

Although individuals experience afib differently, depending on causes and background, some facts are helpful and common to all.

Afib Management or Treatment

PROCEDURES:
1. Ablation
2. Maze surgery
3. HIFU
4. Cardioversion (Chemical
    or electrical
Goal: Elimination of afib
and permanent conversion
to sinus rhythm.

MEDICATION:
1. Rate Control-control of
pulse rate to reduce
symptoms
Common Rate Control Drugs:
Atenolol
Metoprolol
Verapamil
Digoxin

2. Rhythm Control-conversion to
and maintenance of sinus
Common Rhythm Control Drugs:
Class Ia: Quinidine, Procainamide
Disopyramide
Class Ib: Lidocaine
Class Ic: Flecainide, Propafenone
(Rhythmol)
Class III: Sotalol, Dofetilide,
Amiodarone, Ibutilide

3. Anticoagulation drugs: thinning
the blood to prevent stroke
from clotting of pooled blood
due to decreased pumping
activity of the heart in afib.
Coumadin
Warfarin
Aspirin
Plavix

Common Afib Triggers

Martini Glass, Filling

ALMOST UNIVERSAL:
Alcohol
Caffeine
Nicotine (smoking)

C0MMON:
MSG and food additives
Stress/anxiety
Novocaine (Epinephrine)
Illegal drugs (cocaine,marijuana, etc.)
Thyroid hormone (excessive
or inadequate) 
Cold drinks and foods
Cold remedies
Acidic foods or drinks
Certain postures (lying
left side, bending,
slouching while eating)
Hypertension
Large meals
Late meals
Fast meals
Low blood sugar 
Low electrolyte levels
Electrolyte imbalance 
Dehydration
Sleep loss
Sleep apnea
Dairy products
Chocolate
Viruses and infections
Excessive activity
Clothing - Too tight or
  restrictive
Structural heart
  problems
Stomach problems
  (excessive gas)

Cheese

Cup of coffee

Some Common Afib Symptoms
 
Many persons having afib may
usually experience some but rarely all
of these symptoms:
 
Pounding heartbeat
 
Irregular, erratic pulse
 
Throbbing of the jugular vein
(which can sometimes be seen)
 
Feeling of movement in the
chest (often described by afib
patients as the feeling of a
"squirrel fight" in the chest
 
Sweating
 
Fatigue
 
Weakness or pain in the
extremities
 
Pain in the chest
 
Flushing of the face
 
Tingling or numbness in
the extremities
 
Dizziness
 
Feeling of imminent fainting
accompanied by visual
disturbance as in "everything
turning gray"
 
Actual fainting
 
Shortness of breath
 
Some people who have
asymptomatic afib may
experience no symptoms.
This is not necessarily good
if it prevents them from knowing
that they have afib.  Not knowing
about the presence of afib can
lead to stroke because of
failure to evaluate the necessity
for anticoagulation to prevent
the clots possibly formed in the
presence of the inefficient pumping
due to afib.

Two Major Afib Types

Vagal Afib is caused by vasovagal
stimulation, meaning stimulation
of the vagus nerve, a large nerve
which controls both digestion and
heart beat. Because of the connection
between the vagus nerve and the
stomach, vagal afib can often follow
stomach symptoms such as gas or
stomach pains. Also, vagal afib
often develops in the presence of
a low, resting pulse rate. For this
reason, athletes and other very fit
individuals with low pulse rates are
often susceptible to afib.

Adrenergic Afb is caused mainly by
stress, both physical and mental.
Stress that may trigger afib includes
anxiety, fear, grief, or sudden upset.
Physical stress of excessive exercise
may cause afib in some susceptible
individuals.

Some individuals may be vulnerable to
both types of afib, but many
experience one exclusively or one
type more frequently than the other.

Running, Colorado

Wine bottle and glass

GLOSSARY OF AFIB TERMS

Ablation -  a procedure in which a doctor destroys (ablates) very small
portions of the heart which are causing fast heart rate
 
Antiarrhythmic drugs - drugs used to control all abnormal
heart rhythms except very slow ones
 
Anticoagulants - drugs that inhibit blood clotting
 
Arrhythmia - an abnormal heart beat, either too fast or too slow
 
Atria - the upper chambers of the heart from which blood flows to the ventricles: oxygen poor blood from right atrium to right ventricle and to lungs; oxygen rich blood from left atrium to left ventricle and out to the body
 
Atrial fibrillation - an irregular, usually fast heartbeat in which the heart pumps blood with about 33 percent less efficiency
 
Atrial flutter - an extremely fast, irregular beat
 
Bradycardia - a too slow heart beat
 
Cardioversion - converting one electrical pattern to another
by drugs or electrical stimulation
 
Conduction system - the system by which electrical signals travel from
the atria to the ventricles to pace the heartbeat
 
C Reactive Protein Test -- a test that measures blood levels of C Reactive protein, a substance produced by the liver, in response to inflammation -- High CRP levels can mean a part of the body is inflamed -- may play a role in afib according to theory
 
Electrocardiogram - (EKG or ECG) a machine-generated electronic tracing of the heart's electrical rhythm with a computer generated diagnosis of rhythm
 
Electrophysiology study - a procedure in which a thin tube (catheter)
is inserted into a vein or artery and guided to the heart to perform
highly specific measurements of electrical activities and pathways
 
Event Monitor -- a device which records heart rhythm while the patient is moving freely with information possibly being sent through the phone lines to the doctor
 
Hemorrhagic stroke - bleeding into or around the brain
 
HIFU -  a procedure for eliminating afib using Highly Intense Focused Ultrasound
 
Holter monitor - a portable electronic monitoring device which is worn for 24 hours or more to determine the electrical activity of the heart
 
Hypertension - higher than normal blood pressure which can contribute to afib
 
INR --  the number resulting from a Protime test which measures the time it takes for a patient's blood to clot -- and International Normalized Ratio 
 
Ischemic stroke - blood supply to the brain is interrupted
 
Lone - afib with no apparent systemic cause

Maze surgery - procedure involving open heart surgery to stop afib's errant electrical impulses by creating lesions and scar tissue in heart tissue to block aberrant impulses
 
Mini-Maze - a catheter type procedure, not open heart, using different types of energy sources to create the lesions to block aberrant electrical impulses that cause afib
 
Pacemaker - a battery-powered device that monitors and if necessary
corrects abnormal rhythm
 
Paroxysmal - recurring intermittently
 
Protime test - a prothrombin time test necessary to monitor the blood  coagulation status of those taking Coumadin or Warfarin for anticoagulation
 
PVA - Pulmonary Vein Ablation - a procedure to stop afib
 
PVC's - (Premature ventricular contractions) an abnormal heartbeat that
occurs when the heart's lower chambers (ventricles) are told to pump
too soon by a signal that came from an area other than the sinus node,
the heart's natural pacemaker - happens once or several times in a row
 
PVI - Pulmonary Vein Isolation - procedure to stop afib
 
Sinus rhythm - a normal, regular heartbeat usually within the range of 60 - 100 beats per minute
 
Sleep apnea - a condition in which a person's breathing stops and starts many times during sleep, possibly triggering afib
 
Stroke - a potentially fatal event in which oxygen to the brain is restricted, often because of a blood clot
 
Supraventricular Tachycardia -- condition in which electrical impulses traveling through the heart are abnormal because  of a cardiac problem above the ventricles e.g. afib, atrial flutter, or AV node reentry
 
Tachycardia - an abnormally fast heartbeat, usually more than 100 beats per minute
 
Vasovagal stimulation - stimulation of the vagus nerve which controls digestion,  heart beat, and other functions
 
Valsalva maneuvers - a series of physical exercises or natural techniques for stopping or avoiding afib, with the most common being bearing down with the diaphragm muscle
 
Vagally mediated afib - afib induced by vasovagal stimulation of the vagus nerve
 
Ventricles - the heart's main pumping chambers
 
Ventricular Fib - a life threatening arrhythmia in which heart
no longer beats but quivers  (much more serious than afib)
 
 

Mantle Clock

Days filled with excessive, stressful activity can affect afib.

Sundial Rotating

Sleep loss can be a potent afib trigger.

Pills

Drugs can control either heart rhythm or rate and  thereby prevent or control afib symptoms, making life in afib very tolerable for many afibbers.

Medical treatment

Hypertension and other health problems can trigger afib.

Cup of coffee

Caffeine is an almost universal afib trigger, which causes afib for most, although not all, afibbers.

Books

Research and understanding of afib can lead to living with afib more comfortably.

Open Book

Closed Book

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