House Call: Atrial fibrillation – signs, symptoms and treatment

Atrial fibrillation is the most common form of heart rhythm disorder, also known as arrhythmia. More than two million people in the country have atrial fibrillation, and it is especially prevalent in the Southeast region of the U.S. 

Unfortunately, atrial fibrillation is a serious health disorder that increases the risk of stroke. Therefore, it is extremely important to learn the symptoms and risk factors of the condition. A common sign of atrial fibrillation is ongoing fast or slow heartbeats, known as palpitations.

Other, less common symptoms include shortness of breath or a tired/fatigued feeling.  Individuals with high blood pressure, sleep apnea, obesity, advanced age, history of heart disease and those who abuse alcohol are at higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation. 

Once a patient is diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, it is important to have their risk for stroke assessed by a cardiologist. 

Individuals who have atrial fibrillation in addition to conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, advanced age and/or history of stroke often need to be treated with anti-coagulant medications. 

Catheter ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat atrial fibrillation patients who do not respond to medication therapies. 

This procedure employs the use of advanced imaging technology to map the patient’s heart and to guide the catheter from a vein in the groin to the abnormal tissue in the heart which cardiologists destroy with a radiofrequency electrical current.

The exceptional team of cardiologists and related healthcare professionals at Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center are dedicated to continuous education and training in the constantly advancing technologies in catheter ablation procedures and other arrhythmia treatment options.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. James Allred is a cardiologist and a member of the Cone Health medical staff. He is a 2002 graduate of Medical College of Virginia, completing a residency in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center. 

Dr. Allred is a leading expert in electrophysiology and treating arrhythmia, completing a fellowship in cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology at University Alabama-Birmingham.

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