Atrial Fibrillation

Get your rhythm back 

Aurora BayCare’s Heart and Vascular team offers the latest minimally invasive treatments for Afib and other causes of irregular heartbeats.

What Is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is a disorder that occurs when the heart’s upper chambers beat rapidly and out of sync with the heart’s lower chambers. The condition can cause poor blood flow and could eventually lead to heart failure or stroke.

The risk of developing atrial fibrillation increases as you age. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and heart disease are also at increased risk for developing this condition.

Risks of Atrial Fibrillation

If you have Afib, your heart has to work harder to pump blood. Over time, this may cause your heart to become enlarged, weak and unable to move blood through your body.

People with Afib also have an increased risk for stroke. Because the heart’s chambers aren’t beating properly, blood may not be pumped out of the heart completely with each heartbeat. This blood may then pool and clot before it exits the heart. A blood clot that’s pumped out of the heart can become lodged in an artery in the brain and cause a stroke. Afib is a leading cause of stroke in the U.S.

Atrial Fibrillation Symptoms

The onset of Afib for some may be so gradual that they will have difficulty recognizing symptoms. Afib is commonly associated with symptoms such as fatigue, fainting, shortness of breath, confusion, dizziness, heart palpitations and tightness in the chest. Some people with Afib don’t experience any symptoms at all.

For many others, the disorder appears as a rapid heart rate that comes and goes suddenly, for short periods of time. Some people do develop persistent (always present) atrial fibrillation. After treatment, when the heart is brought back to a normal rhythm, they will feel an increase in energy. 

Atrial fibrillation can be detected with an electrocardiogram (also called an EKG)—a painless test that records the heart's electrical activity.

Atrial Fibrillation Treatment

There is no cure for Afib at this time, but symptoms can be managed. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and create an approach for your condition. 

Afib effects everyone differently, and there is no one-size-fits all approach to treat the disease. It’s a complex condition that requires collaborative treatment from a variety of medical specialists. 

Heart rhythm abnormalities can be due to abnormal electrical circuits which can be cauterized by catheters that are introduced into the heart through the veins in the legs. This is called an ablation procedure. It can be performed for atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and other abnormal rhythms. 

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