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Reduce your Symptoms with Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

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					       Reduce your Symptoms with Atrial
            Fibrillation Treatment
More than 2.6 million people in the United States have atrial fibrillation – the
most common type of cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heart beat. While atrial
fibrillation itself is a very serious condition, the symptoms of the condition
can also be quite serious.
Symptoms of atrial fibrillation are related to the fact that your heart is beating
faster than is normal. Your body may perceive this rapid or irregular heart
rate as:
• palpitations
• intolerance for exercise
• angina (chest pains caused by a lack of blood to the heart)
• congestive symptoms like edema (the build-up of fluid) and shortness of
breath
Sometimes people don't experience any symptoms and the condition is
identified during a routine physical examination.
The good news is that you can reduce your symptoms when the right
diagnosis is made and you follow through with the recommended treatment.

Why worry
Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common rhythm disorders in U.S. adults
over age 65. And those with the condition are four to five times more likely
to have a stroke – a major stroke that leaves a person severely disabled or
dead.
The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association think
that educating people on the dangers of atrial fibrillation will save lives. They
have established a joint goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all
Americans by 20 percent, while reducing the number of deaths from
cardiovascular disease and stroke by 20 percent. A big part of their plan is to
educate the public about atrial fibrillation.

Types of treatment
Once you have been diagnosed as having atrial fibrillation, the goal of
treatment is to get your heart back into a normal rhythm through medication
or a procedure such as electrical cardioversion, catheter ablation or surgical
ablation. The second goal is more long term – to use anticoagulants to avoid
developing blood clots or having a stroke.
The following are steps your doctor may recommend:
• Atrioventricular node ablation. The doctor uses radiofrequency energy to
destroy the electrical connection (AV node) between the upper and lower
chambers of the heart. This blocks the heart's electrical impulses. Once the
AV node is destroyed, you will receive a pacemaker to establish a normal
heart rhythm.
•    Cardioversion. The doctor gives your heart an electrical shock to help
restore its normal rhythm by placing paddles or patches on your chest to
electrically shock your heart.
•     Catheter radiofrequency ablation. The doctor inserts a thin, flexible
catheter (tube) into a vein in your arm or groin and then threads it through
your blood vessels to your heart. Heat is applied through the catheter to
destroy the problematic heart tissue. This heat is actually radiofrequency
energy.
• Medications. Your doctor may prescribe medication to control your heart
rate or heart rhythm, or to prevent blood clots. Beta blockers, especially
cardioselective beta blockers such as metoprolol, atenolol and bisoprolol
nebivolol can be given. Non-dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, such
as diltiazem or verapamil, can be considered. And in some cases, cardiac
glycosides, such as digoxin, have limited use. Anticoagulants, like warfarin
(brand name Coumadin) are given to decrease your body's clotting proteins –
and lessen the likelihood you will throw a clot.
•    Pacemakers. A pacemaker may be the best way to help regulate your
heartbeat. If that is the case, the pacemaker will be surgically placed under
your skin near your collarbone.
• Surgery. A surgical option is maze heart surgery. A surgeon will make
small cuts in the upper heart chamber to help disrupt the electrical signals that
are causing the irregular heart beat. The doctor can sometimes access the
heart through small incisions in the side of your chest – described as
minimally invasive heart surgery. The benefits of minimally invasive surgery
are that you have smaller, less noticeable scars, a lower risk of infection and
less blood loss.

After care
Most likely your doctor is going to want you to make some healthy lifestyle
changes that will keep your blood pressure under control and improve your
overall health. Common suggestions include:
• Eat heart-healthy foods that are full of phytonutrients, which prevent and
repair damaged cells. Examples include salmon, whole grain foods and leafy
green vegetables.
• Get some exercise, based on your doctor's directions. The American Heart
Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week – or
75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. You can break this down to 30
minutes a day, five times a week, or break it up into even smaller segments.
Studies show you will also experience the benefits of exercise even if you
divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes a day.
•    Use less salt. Again, the American Heart Association recommends no
more than 1,500 milligrams of salt a day.

The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It
is not a substitute for medical advice. All medical information presented
should be discussed with your healthcare professional. Remember, the failure
to seek timely medical advice can have serious ramifications. We urge you to
discuss any current health related problems you are experiencing with a
healthcare professional immediately.

				
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posted:6/17/2012
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