An estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with a condition that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Fortunately, a leading health organization is working to help these individuals reduce their risk of developing such dangerous conditions.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is defined as a quivering or irregular heartbeat. Often, strokes that occur for no known cause can be linked to AFib, which a person may not even be aware they have.
The American Heart Association (AHA) — the world’s leading voluntary health organization dedicated to being a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives — wants all people living with AFib to understand how they can reduce their risk of cardiac complications.
“AFib can have symptoms such as an irregular-feeling heartbeat, shortness of breath and light-headedness or it can have no symptoms at all. Even if you are not experiencing symptoms of AFib, your stroke risk is still increased five-fold,” says Patrick Ellinor, M.D., Ph.D., cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Health care providers score a patient’s risk of a stroke caused by AFib by taking into account such factors as age, sex and pre-existing conditions including hypertension, diabetes, vascular disease and prior stroke or ischemic attack.
“If you suspect you have AFib, meet with your doctor. AFib can be managed, helping you avoid stroke and live a longer, healthier life,” adds Ellinor.
The AHA offers a free online community for those diagnosed with AFib, My Afib Experience. The initiative was made possible by an educational grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer Alliance. To learn more, visit www.heart.org/afibawareness.