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What is Afib?

Have you ever felt your heart flutter, race or skip a beat? Most of us have at some point, But if this happens more frequently, you may have atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is a problem with the heart’s rhythm – the way it beats. When someone is “in Afib,” the heartbeats in a rapid, chaotic way.

What are some of the signs & symptoms?

Have you ever felt your heart flutter, race or skip a beat? Most of us have at some point, But if this happens more frequently, you may have atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation (Afib) is a problem with the heart’s rhythm – the way it beats. When someone is “in Afib,” the heartbeats in a rapid, chaotic way.

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very rapid or irregular heartbeats – some women say they feel their heart flip-flopping in their chests, skipping a beat or fluttering

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Listen to your body, Afib can occur every once and a while (called paroxysmal atrial fibrillation) or all the time (chronic atrial fibrillation).

Either way, be sure to tell your health care provider about all of your symptoms.

Millions of Women live with atrial fibrillation (Afib). Even though it is more common in men, women with Afib are more likely to have a stroke. Untreated, Afib can also lead to heart failure and chronic fatigue.

Risk factors:

Afib is more likely as you get older. On average, women tend to develop Afib around 75 years of age (vs 67 for men). However, younger women can also have it. Other risk factors can include:

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How is Afib diagnosed?

Your doctor will first ask how you have been feeling and perform a physical exam. If you’ve noticed chest pains, breathlessness or a racing heart, be prepared to tell him or her when they happen (laying down, climbing stairs, etc.) and how often.

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There are a number of things you can do to live well with Afib and prevent problems.

A

Pay attention to risk factors for Afib, heart disease and stroke. Make sure your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are stable.

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B

Eat a healthy diet.

C

Exercise regularly and monitor your weight.

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D

Know what triggers an episode. Doing so will help you prevent or better anticipate Afib.
Common risks that triggers an AFib episode: alcohol, caffeine, upper respiratory infections and extreme stress.

E

Learn how to pace yourself. Most women living with Afib will tell you it is a livable condition

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F

Have a plan to stay calm. Anxiety can make episodes much worse.

G

Take your medications as prescribed.

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H

Know your risk of stroke & other health problems

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Possible treatments include lifestyle changes and medications and/or medical procedures

  • blood-thinning medications to prevent clots
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  • heart rate control medications that bring the heart rate to a normal level
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  • heart rhythm control medications that restore or maintain normal heart rhythm
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  • electrical cardioversion –paddles are applied to the chest to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm
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  • catheter ablation – wires are inserted into veins in the leg or arm and threaded to the heart to alter abnormal areas that may be causing the abnormal heart rhythm
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  • surgical maze – small cuts are made in the heart, creating a “maze” that prevents the abnormal beats from controlling the heart. This is a very effective treatment, but because this requires open heart surgery, it is often used when other options have failed.
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  • It’s not a one-time episode!

    Afib is often an ongoing condition that needs to be managed. Women say having regular appointments with their cardiologists and taking medicines to steady their hearts is something you need to follow to maintain a healthy life.



  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
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  • Sudden confusion, or trouble speaking or understanding
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  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
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  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
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  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
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You should never wait more than five minutes to call emergency if you experience even one of the signs above. Remember, you could be having a stroke even if you’re not experiencing all of the symptoms. And remember to check the time.

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Call Emergency; Heart attack and stroke are life-or-death, every second counts.

If you suspect, you or someone you are with has any of the symptoms of heart attack or stroke immediately call emergency so an ambulance can be sent.

Also note that when someone experience a stroke, if given a clot-busting drug within 3 to 4.5 hours of the start of symptoms, it may improve the chances of getting better faster.



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Ischemic

The kind of stroke caused by a clot is called an ischemic stroke, and is by far the most common type, accounting for 87 percent of all cases.

Hemorrhagic

A hemorrhagic stroke is the kind where a weakened blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain, compressing the surrounding brain tissue. This kind accounts for about 13 percent of stroke cases.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

The third kind of stroke, known as mini stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), is caused by a temporary clot. This type should more rightly be called a warning stroke because while they may last only a minute or two, they’re a major wake-up call to start making some lifestyle changes and consult your doctor ASAP.

signs of stroke demand immediate attention, even if it seems like the worst possible timing.



Due to a family history or other risk factors, even a woman who has always thought of herself as perfectly healthy can find herself suddenly experiencing the symptoms of stroke.

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A stroke happens when either a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked by a clot or the vessel bursts. When either of these occur, the brain does not receive the oxygen-rich blood it needs and brain cells begin to die, and quickly. That’s why it’s so important to know the signs and symptoms of stroke.

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Heart Attack Signs in Women

Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

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Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

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Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somehow more likely than men to experience these common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging. Heart disease is the world’s biggest killers, accounting for a combined 15 million deaths in 2015. These diseases have remained the leading causes of death globally in the last 15 years.

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Angina in Women Can Be Different Than Men

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Angina (chest pain) is a warning sign of heart disease, and recognizing it and getting treated early may prevent a heart attack. Fatty build-up in your coronary arteries, called plaque, prevents blood flow that’s needed to provide oxygen to your heart muscle.

Women more frequently develop heart disease within the very small arteries that branch out from the coronary arteries – microvascular disease (MVD) and occurs particularly in younger women.

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On the other hand, Heart disease in men usually is due to blockages in their coronary arteries – obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD). Up to 50 percent of women with anginal symptoms who undergo cardiac catheterization don’t have the obstructive type of CAD.

You may have tightness, pressure or discomfort in your chest during physical activity or when stressed. But it goes away shortly after you stop the activity or get rid of the stress.

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Angina symptoms in women can also include feeling out of breath, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or sharp chest pain.  Once the extra demand for blood and oxygen stops, so do the symptoms.



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Women, in particular, can have pain in either arm – not just the left one like many men.

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Pain in the lower or upper back often starts in the chest and spreads to these areas.

The pain is sometimes sudden, not due to physical exertion, and can wake you up at night.

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You may feel pain that is specific to the left, lower side of the jaw.