Meet the Culprit: Atrial Fibrillation

Featuring: Dr. Best, Cardiologist

Highlighted most recently on national and local news has been the discussion of atrial fibrillation.  What is it?  How can you get it?  And from the standpoint of a physician, how can atrial fibrillation be treated? 

We’ve all had the opportunity of being placed in situations that were, well less than comfortable.  Often times, we begin to feel anxiety, and the beating of our heart increases dramatically.  Imagine living life with that rapidly beating heart rate… Your heart beats all the time, thanks to electric signals that are produced by your body.  When those electrical signals begin to beat at a chaotic-like pace, for seemingly no reason atrial fibrillation is typically the culprit. 

Atrial fibrillation is not induced because of an infection, disease or airborne virus.  “A-fib” as it is known, may develop due to high blood pressure, out of a heart attack, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, endocarditis, abnormal heart valves, and heart defects with which you may have been born. 

My patients, who are identified as possibly having atrial fibrillation, undergo a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis.  Those tests include, but are not limited to: a chest x-ray, holter moniter, blood tests echocardiogram and a stress test.  Atrial fibrillation should not be overlooked as something that will simply “go away.”  Because the chaotic heart beat may create a pool of blood near or even in the atria, patients who have atrial fibrillation are more likely to have a stroke and in some cases, die due to the muscle spasms of the heart. 

As a physician, I take a pride in the care I provide my patients and generally recommend the following treatment options for those diagnosed with atrial fibrillation:

  1. Anticoagulation with either Coumadin or Pradaxa as prophylaxis against strokes
  2. Cardioversion or shocking the heart back to normal sinus rhythm
  3. Initiation of anti-arrhythmic drugs to maintain sinus rhythm
  4. Pulmonary venous mapping and ablation of the tissues by radiofrequency waves (invasive)
  5. Maze procedure (during open heart surgery they filet the atria decreasing reentry circuits)
  6. Radiofrequency ablation of the AV node with placement of a permanent pacemake

If you have questions or concerns, my staff at the CMH Heart Institute Clinic will be happy to visit with you.  Call the CMH Heart Institute Clinic at 417-328-6040 for more information.

Spread the Red and celebrate Heart Month with us!

John F. Best, M.D., FACP, FACC, FSCAI

Categories: Conditions, Treatments
Tags: Cardiology, Atrail Fibrillation, Heart Beat

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