Flopping fish. Fluttering butterflies. Pounding thunder. All of these can be subtle signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common type of irregular heartbeat. Also known as an arrhythmia, when you have an irregular heartbeat, this means that the electrical impulses in your heart aren’t working quite right. Sounds harmless enough—right?
Before you assume that AFib is nothing to worry about, let’s take a closer look at some surprising facts about AFib that everyone should know.
1. AFib is just one kind of arrhythmia.
While AFibis the most common type of arrhythmia, it’s only 1 out of 5 different types. It's estimated that more than 4 million Americans have an arrhythmia some type, with AFib alone accounting for nearly 3 million of those.
2. AFib isn’t too fast or slow—it’s just irregular.
Typically, arrhythmias fall into one of two categories: tachycardia, a faster than normal heart rate, or bradycardia, a slower than normal heart rate; however, AFib can be either one. Often times, though, it causes a fast heart rate, usually more than 100 beats per minute.
3. AFib can come and go.
There are actually 3 different types of AFib, ranging from intermittent to persistent. At first, you may experience AFib episodes that only last for a few minutes, hours or up to a week, with symptoms that go away on their own. Over time, though, these milder, intermittent AFib episodes often evolve into longstanding AFib.
4. AFib is more common in men, but more severe in women.
While AFib is more common as you age, men—of any age—are still more likely than women to develop AFib. However, women often report experiencing more severe symptoms than men. For instance, women are more likely to experience palpitations, lightheadedness and dizziness, as well as chest tightness and discomfort.
5. Poor sleep may increase your AFib risk.
The connection between sleep and heart disease is well known, but the link between AFib and sleepis still being investigated. One recent study found that people who suffer from sleep apnea, or interrupted sleep may be up to 26% more likely to develop AFib.
6. AFib may not be life-threatening, but its complications are.
On its own, AFib isn’t necessarily life threatening, but when considering the several heart-related conditions that are possible, AFib can be deadly. In fact, it is estimated that individuals with AFib are up to 7 times more likely to suffer a stroke.
7. AFib can be treated.
With GMC’s innovative AFib program, you can receive customized care—from diagnosis to treatment—without skipping a beat. To get you and your heart back in rhythm, GMC offers hands-on care from experienced, board-certified electrophysiologists and a dedicated cardiac team, along with two state-of-the-art EP labs.
Now that you know some of the key facts about AFib, would you know it if you had it? To learn more about GMC’s AFib program and hear directly from our knowledgeable experts, RSVP to our upcoming AFib Informational Breakfast.