What is AF?
Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib), is the most common and one of the most undertreated heart rhythm disorders in America. The disease, which involves an irregular quivering or rapid heart rhythm in the upper chambers (atria) of the heart, is found in approximately 33 million people worldwide.
When the heart does not contract at a normal rhythm, blood is not pumped completely out of the atria and may pool and clot.
Why Treat AF?
When left untreated, AF patients have a five times higher chance of having a stroke, and are at greater risk of developing heart failure.
Additionally, since AF causes inefficient pumping of the heart, patients can develop symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, chest tightness or lightheadedness.
Three Types of AF
Paroxysmal AF occurs when the rapid rhythm in the heart’s upper chambers start and stop suddenly, usually for minutes or days at a time.
Persistent AF occurs when the heart’s upper chambers beat erratically for more than seven days and medical intervention or drug therapy is needed to stop the episode.
Permanent or continuous AF occurs when the heart’s upper chambers consistently beat erratically, and a decision has been made by the patient and the doctor not to try to restore normal sinus rhythm by any means, including catheter or surgical ablation.