Cardiologist & Interventional Cardiologist located in Washington, DC & Silver Spring, MD
About one-fourth of all individuals older than 40 will develop atrial fibrillation, or AFib, sometime during their lifetime. However, your risk for this abnormal heart rhythm significantly increases as you get older. If you experience any unusual heart symptoms, or you have a family history of heart disease, contact Luc Oke, MD, at Heart Consultants in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Washington, DC. Call either office for an appointment or book an appointment online today.
Atrial Fibrillation Q & A
What is atrial fibrillation?
Your heart has four chambers, two upper chambers (left atrium and right atrium) and two lower chambers called ventricles.
For your heart to beat properly and deliver a strong, steady flow of blood throughout the body, the muscles in each chamber must contract and relax at a specific rate and rhythm.
Each heartbeat begins from a tiny cluster of cells in the right atrium called the sinus node. The node generates an electrical signal that moves through the heart’s electrical system, triggering muscle contraction at the right time in each chamber.
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, that occurs when the electrical signal starts somewhere other than the sinus node. As a result, the two upper chambers beat at a fast rate and in a disorganized pattern.
What are the symptoms of atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation may not cause any symptoms, but when it does, you may experience the following:
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or passing out
- Palpitations, which may feel like a racing or flip-flopping heartbeat
- Weakness or fatigue
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath or discomfort with breathing
- Coughing that doesn’t improve or worsens
- Swelling in the legs
- Leg pain while walking
- High blood pressure
These are the same potential warning signs for many types of cardiovascular disease. If you or your loved one experiences any of the above symptoms, contact Dr. Oke to schedule an appointment.
How is atrial fibrillation treated?
Dr. Oke at Heart Consultants offers comprehensive and state-of-the-art care for atrial fibrillation. His immediate concern is to determine your risk for a serious cardiac event and to diagnose the underlying cause of the atrial fibrillation. From there, he works with you to create a treatment plan.
Treatment for atrial fibrillation usually incorporates medications to regulate the heart rate, get your heart back to a normal rhythm, and prevent blood clots.
When needed, you may benefit from a surgical procedure to eliminate the heart cells causing the arrhythmia, such as cardiac catheter ablation. If surgery is needed, Dr. Oke takes time to talk with you, explain the procedure, and support you every step of the way.
To schedule an appointment at Heart Consultants, call the office or book a consultation online today.