Some signs of atrial fibrillation – or AFib – are hard to ignore: a racing heartbeat, chest pain, dizziness or trouble breathing. However, almost a quarter of the 2.7 million Americans with AFib have no symptoms at all. If you have AFib and you don’t treat it, it can cause a stroke or heart failure – so here’s how to know if you’re at risk.
Anyone can have AFib, but chances increase as you get older. If someone in your family has AFib, you also have a higher risk. Here’s some other factors that increase risk:
- High blood pressure.
- Obesity or diabetes.
- Heart failure or heart disease.
- Hyperthyroidism or chronic kidney disease.
- Heavy alcohol use.
If you’re healthy, you can still have AFib if you drink a lot of caffeine or experience more stress than usual, so keep that in mind.
The best way to detect AFib is having regular check ups with your doctor, but if you or someone you love is at risk, here’s what to look out for:
- Fatigue, weakness or dizziness.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat, or a “thumping” in the chest.
- Shortness of breath, faintness or sweating.
- Confusion or anxiety.
- Chest pain or pressure.
You can reduce your risk of AFib by exercising regularly, eating a heart-healthy diet, avoiding excessive amounts or caffeine and alcohol, and controlling cholesterol and high-blood pressure.
The good news is that AFib can be managed with treatment – but the first step is knowing if you have it. If you might be at risk, make an appointment with your doctor or cardiologist today.