Atrial Fibrillation, also known as AFib, is an irregular and rapid heartbeat. As a result of this, the circulation of blood in the body becomes more laboured which might result in blood clots, stroke, or other heart-related disorders. Although AFib is the most common serious heart rhythm problem, it often goes undetected and untreated, particularly in India.
While the data on how many people have AFib is unclear in India, data show that the Indian population is increasingly affected by AFib risk factors. This includes hypertension, diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease.
It is important to know what signs and symptoms indicate that you may have AFib:
- Palpitations: Patients often feel a racing sensation which is caused due to an erratic pulse rate that irregularly speeds up or slows down. This sensation is similar to what is experienced when you are nervous or excited.
- Fatigue: When the heart is functioning with an irregular heartbeat, the other organs in the body may not get enough oxygen as the heart won’t be able to pump out oxygenated blood as easily. Consequently, this could lead to lightheadedness or fatigue.
- Tightness in the chest: AFib is known to cause a general feeling of uneasiness in the chest area, which could be characterised by a sudden tightness.
Symptoms related to AFib can vary as per the severity of your condition. These symptoms can also be:
- Occasional – they come and go every once in a while.
- Persistent – your heartbeat is perpetually irregular
- Long-standing persistent – this type of atrial fibrillation lasts longer than 12 months.
- Permanent – the normal heart rhythm cannot be restored, requiring medication to prevent blood clots. This type of AFib cannot be reversed.
Hearing from an AFib Patient:
Sagar Arora had recently retired at 60. His family considered it an early retirement, given how active he is. He knew he had high cholesterol and had regularly been taking medication for over a decade. Like many others his age, he would get health checkups; spending a day in the hospital to get a series of tests done once a year or so. A few years ago during a stress test, the doctors found a developing heart condition. This was no surprise to Sagar, high cholesterol and heart issues were common in his family. But when he learned, at his annual checkup in 2016, that he had atrial fibrillation (AFib), he was surprised.
“I thought people could feel their heart fluttering during AFib, but I can’t,” said Sagar. Looking back, he could recall feeling breathless when walking the dog or carrying groceries. “I thought I was just getting old,” he says, laughing. “I never would have suspected AFib.” Now understanding that AFib is not a one-time episode, Sagar monitors his condition regularly and is prescribed medication specifically for AFib.
Receiving a timely diagnosis and following the prescribed treatment can spare you from a lifetime of discomfort as a result of AFib. Monitoring your AFib episodes is now much easier with the introduction of smartphone-enabled ECG devices like AliveCor’s KardiaMobile. This FDA-cleared device allows you to record a medical-grade ECG by placing your fingers on pocket-friendly electrodes. Your real-time ECG appears on your smartphone, which can then be easily emailed to your doctor. The smartphone ECG monitor is a convenient way to record what your heart is doing and instead of getting one ECG every few months at a doctor’s appointment, you can record ECGs regularly at home. That allows for more meaningful visits with your physician, who can make better treatment decisions based on your heart rhythm over time.
Thus, AFib is a manageable condition with the right lifestyle choices and a sound treatment and monitoring plan. Don’t let AFib take over your life, and don’t take it easy with your heart health!
About AliveCor: Experience heart care like never before with AliveCor’s KardiaMobile 6L, world’s only FDA-cleared 6 lead ECG device that lets you take a medical-grade ECG in just 30 seconds.