Heart health is a very important topic. Many of the people I work with have atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, on some level. A-fib is when the upper chambers of the heart get too many signals to beat, so the heart quivers without really giving a good strong beat.

This can be caused by a few different things such as: heart diseases, sleep apnea, thyroid issues, high blood pressure and congenital issues with the heart.

Symptoms of a-fib are a fluttering feeling in the chest or feeling like your heart is beating too fast. Other symptoms are fatigue, lightheadedness, weakness, confusion, shortness of breath and chest pain.

These are caused by the heart not being able to give a strong beat and send enough oxygen-rich blood out into the body. If you are having these symptoms, call your doctor right away and set up an appointment.

Start documenting your symptoms, including when and how long they last and what you are doing at the time. If the symptoms are chest pain, ongoing fluttering or fast heart rate, skip the doctor appointment and call 911 as this could lead to more severe issues.

There are many treatments for a-fib depending on what the underlying cause is. Treatment can be as simple as taking a daily medication or having a pacemaker implanted.

Untreated a-fib can lead to heart failure due to the heart overworking itself or stroke due to blood pooling in the atrium and clotting, then getting sent out into the body and brain. The earlier a-fib is addressed, the easier it is to treat, so be good to your heart and get it checked out. ☸

(Sarah Redfern is a registered nurse with Samaritan Wiley Creek Community.)

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