Experts estimate that by 2030, 12.1 million Americans will have atrial fibrillation (AFib). The risk of developing the condition increases with age. Some of the most impactful risk factors are obesity, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, smoking, etc.
The problem is, if you don’t manage AFib, you put your heart at risk.
People with atrial fibrillation are susceptible to stroke.
In fact, they have a four- to five-fold higher risk of ischemic stroke compared to healthy individuals.
So, what’s the right kind of treatment? Is there an AFib cure? What can you do to manage the condition? Here, you will learn exactly what you need to keep atrial fibrillation in check.
AFib – What Is It and How It Affects the Heart?
That means the heart is beating too fast, too slow, or very irregularly.
This health complication occurs when both the lower and upper chambers of the heart are beating out of sync.
When people have AFib, they could develop:
- Chest pain;
- Extreme exhaustion;
- Pounding, fluttering, or quickened heartbeats;
- Difficulty breathing;
This chaotic rhythm hinders the heart’s normal function. It can result in blood stacking inside the atria (upper chamber of the heart) and create blood clots. Once these blood clots start to form, they can detach themselves from the heart and move all the way to the brain.
The blockage could then cause a stroke.
But, it is not uncommon for the condition to end up weakening the heart and causing heart failure. That’s why it is critical to get the proper type of treatment and learn to control the condition.
Is There an AFib Cure?
Although there are medications and electrical cardioversion (a procedure that uses a low-voltage electric current) to manage atrial fibrillation, you can’t get an AFib cure. These treatment approaches don’t cure the condition.
What they can do is curb the symptoms for a long time.
According to 2019 reports, treatment strategies for AFib include risk-factor management, stroke prevention, catheter ablation, heart rhythm, and rate control. Patients who take adequate treatment decrease the mortality and morbidity associated with atrial fibrillation. Each approach has its own use and impact.
Since there isn’t an AFib cure, you must consult with your healthcare provider on the best medicines you can take or the procedures you can use. A general practitioner can treat mild cases of AFib. But, you might be referred to a cardiologist for more serious issues. This is a heart specialist that can suggest the ideal form of treatment.
However, the treatment you’ll get will depend on what’s causing the atrial fibrillation.
For example, if your AFib is the result of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), then you will get medicine. The doctor can suggest antithyroid drugs like radio-iodine, propylthiouracil, or carbimazole. Sometimes, surgery might be necessary.
If there is no definite cause, you can get:
- Catheter ablation;
- Pacemaker utilization;
- Electric shock treatment (cardioversion);
- Blood-thinning meds to decrease the possibility of stroke;
- Medicines to manage AFib (like beta-blocker or a calcium channel blocker).
At other times, atrial fibrillation could be caused by exposure to stimulants.
It could be the result of too much alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and medications.
In fact, several drugs have been associated with AFib. That’s why it is crucial to let your doctor know about everything you are currently taking. That way, you can ensure you are getting the best possible treatment.
Because There Is No AFib Cure, Can I Stop an Episode?
Even though you can’t get an AFib cure, it doesn’t mean you should let the irregular heart rate get out of hand. Whenever you feel like your chest is racing or your heart is pounding, then it might mean you are having an episode.
If you have AFib, see your doctor first to avoid any serious complications, like heart failure or stroke. If you want a more practical approach, you can do that too.
According to experts, whenever you are having an episode, you should call a doctor.
The chest pain and weakness could be a sign of a more serious health issue.
You can also give yourself some of the necessary support.
For example, you can try slow and focused breathing.
This is a great way to stabilize some of the involuntary fluctuations and relax the system. Another option is yoga. Although it might sound too easy, yoga is more than just a simple exercise. It can calm the heart and could decrease the frequency of AFib episodes.
Regular exercise can also be a viable strategy. Physical activity relaxes the body and engages a huge portion of its key muscles. This is something you can use if you want to calm your mind and think more clearly.
Another thing you can do yourself is regular heart monitoring with personal devices like portable ECG monitors and connected apps. Thereby, you can follow different important heart health aspects, sport abnormalities and adapt your activities based on that.
As of right now, there is no AFib cure. If you want to keep the condition in check, you should contact your doctor and ask them about the best treatment approach you could go for. Treatment is here to curb the symptoms and give people a comfortable way of life.