September is National Afib Month
What is “Afib”? Learn More About Seniors and Atrial Fibrillation During National Afib Month?
National AFib (Atrial Fibrillation) month occurs annually in September. It is important for people who have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation to understand what this diagnosis means and what to expect in the future. The term itself means that there is an abnormal heart rhythm present. This occurs in the upper two chambers of the heart called the atria. Seniors and those who have been diagnosed with this condition may experience palpitations, shortness of breath, and many times dizziness. People who suffer from this have described it as feeling like “flip-flops” or “fluttering.” Some have described it as feeling like their heart is “pounding out of their chest.”
AF is a common heart condition among the young and elderly. If a patient mentions to his doctor that he feels a fast, irregular, or “quivering” in his chest the doctor may perform an exam to determine if it is actually Afib. If it is detected, the physician will order more intense testing to determine the severity of the problem. If the irregular beat has a very fast onset, accompanied by chest pain it is very important to receive professional care right away! This could be an emergency that requires immediate treatment. The heart carries oxygenated blood to other areas of the body and when there is a reduction in the supply that is distributed to body organs, damage can occur. This is why it is important to keep regular appointments so that the doctor can monitor a person closely and regularly after receiving a definite diagnosis of having this condition.
The patient’s treatment plan will depend on a physician’s rating the severity of the irregular rhythm. This can be done by a test called an echocardiogram, or by wearing a holster monitor to record the rhythm of the heart. Sometimes medicine to thin the blood, (anticoagulants) will be prescribed. This medication will help to prevent clotting that can lead to strokes. Clotting occurs because the heart is not pumping the blood from the heart in the manner in which it needs to, thus causing a pooling of the blood leading to blood clot formation.
There are some things that can raise the risks of stroke or heart disease occurring such as smoking, fat intake, physical activity level, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Routine exams with a physician are critical if there is a potential increased risk to the patient caused by these factors after they were diagnosed with the atrial fibrillation. It is important that the patient do as much as possible to keep the risks lower such as changing his diet, quitting smoking, and becoming more active.
For most people, this ailment is not an extremely severe condition, but it does need to be monitored by a physician for the prevention of future problems such as congestive heart failure and stroke. For seniors and the elderly, afib can be an alarming diagnosis. With regular exams, and the proper guidance of a qualified health professional, the diagnosis doesn’t automatically indicate that this is a life threatening condition and it can be treated properly and effectively by following the physician’s orders as directed.
At Andelcare, we recognize that there are many reasons why a loved one may need senior care. From seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease to patients with disabilities to caregivers needing respite care, we are here to provide quality and affordable senior care in Seattle and the surrounding communities. Call us for information, 888-788-3051.