To learn more about atrial fibrillation - also called afib or AF - we interviewed Johan Aasbo, DO, FACC, FHRS, a cardiac electrophysiologist with ProMedica Physicians. Here is our conversation:
Q: What is AFib?
A: The heart is an electrical pump that is governed by electricity. Your heart has a group of cells called the sinus node near its upper right chamber. Normally, it sends electrical impulses that start every beat of your heart and keep your heartb eating with a nice, regular rhythm.
Sometimes that even rhythm can change- becoming rapid, irregular and chaotic. As a result, the upper chambers of your heart quiver erractically causing a rapid, irregular heartbeat.
See what AFib looks like
Q: How does it feel?
A: It differs from patient to patient. Many people with AF never have symptoms. Others describe a feeling in their chest that is like:
• a fish flopping
• a drum pounding
• butterflies fluttering
• their heart leaping out of their chest
• their heart skipping a beat then racing
Patients can also feel lightheaded, anxious, breathless or weak. Some just describe a sense of fatigue.
Q: How is it treated?
A: Treatment may start with medications to control the rate and rhythm of your heart. Many patients also benefit from medicine to prevent blood clots.
However, for some patients, medication is not enough to manage their symptoms. Other treatment options include procedures such as having a catheter ablation or pacemaker.
There are many ways that AF can affect patients. It is critical that treatment be carefully individualized. Cardiac electrophysiologists have particular expertise in treating this sometimes challenging disease.
Learn more about A-Fib