Boca Home Care Services organizes in home care for aging adults who have a variety of health conditions which make it either unsafe or impractical to manage on their own. A little help in the home is what enables many elderly people to remain independent at home. Today we look at Atrial Fibrillation, a common heart condition which affects the heart’s rhythm. Our Blog routinely posts general information about a variety of diseases or conditions.
AFib isn’t an innocent little lie. It is Atrial Fibrillation or AF. It starts in the Atria (heart chamber) and is the most common irregular heart beat (rhythm). Instead of the sinus node directing the rhythm, various impulses fire rapid at one time which causes a very fast, chaotic rhythm in the atria. Since the electrical impulses are so rapid and random, the atria is unable to properly squeeze (contract) blood into the ventricle chamber.
Due to the disorganized nature of the impulses traveling through the chambers, the ventricle contracts irregularly which leads to a fast and irregular heartbeat. The rate of impulses in the atria can range between 300 to 600 beats a minute.
AFib can be linked with many conditions rather than there being one apparent cause.Some of these conditions include: Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). Hypertension, Heart valve disease, Cardiomyopathy, Heart Failure, post cardiac surgery, Pulmonary embolism or congenital heart disease. Less common causes are; viral infection, hyperthyroidism or precarditis. About ten percent of cases show no underlying heart disease. In those instances, AF may be associated with alcohol or excessive caffeine use, some medications, stress, severe infections, metabolic imbalances or genetic factors. There are cases where no cause is found. Age 60 and older increases the risk of AF.
Afib is potentially dangerous as it can lead to other cardiac problems in the future. Because it causes the blood tho flow slower through the chambers, clotting is a big risk. A clot can be pushed to the brain and cause a stroke.Clots can also move to other organs causing other damage. AFib can also make the heart work less efficiently so over a long period of time, the heart can be significantly weakened which may result in heart failure. The increased risk for clots or heart failure can be lethal.
Atrial Fibrillation is diagnosed through certain tests and monitoring of the heartbeats. Your doctor or cardiologist will typically order an ECG or EKG or Holter Monitor, portable event monitor or a transtelephonic monitor. All which look at check the heartbeat and rhythms.
The Symptoms of AF include: Heart palpitations, lack of energy, dizziness, discomfort in the chest, or shortness of breath. A person may also have AF but be symptom free.
If your heart condition causes you any of these symptoms, you may wish to hire help in the home for personal care or at least for household chores such as laundry, shopping, or driving. Boca Home Care Services will introduce you to qualified caregivers which may assist you for reasons of personal safety. You may also qualify for a Medicare Registered Nurse to come to your home (if you are home bound) to monitor your condition.
There are several ways to treat AF and this information is gotten by your cardiologist. These decisions are between you, your doctor and family. They range from least to most invasive. Every person and condition in that person is unique so like with any medical decision, get as much credible information available and discuss the pros and cons of each.
Treatments include: Medication – usually rhythm control medications,or Rate control meds or Anticoagulant meds.
Changes in your habits or lifestyle – quit smoking, discuss exercise or strenuous activities with your doctor, Alcohol consumption, limit caffeine use and other stimulants.
Other more invasive procedures may be called for: Electrical Cardioversion, Catheter Ablation, a pacemaker, or certain types of surgery. Learn about the different approaches and discuss with your cardiac specialist which treatments or approaches may be best for your unique condition.
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