Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a condition in which the electrical signals that control the heart’s pumping mechanisms are out of balance, causing the heart valves to flutter and leading to palpitations, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Although there are millions of people coping with AFib, only about one third of them are convinced that they actually have a serious condition. Then there are almost 3 million people who have been diagnosed with silent AFib, which causes few noticeable symptoms but can be just as risky. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with AFib or suspect you might have it, here are four reasons why you shouldn’t leave it untreated:
1. Untreated AFib Can Lead to Stroke
When the heart is palpitating or fluttering, it isn’t pumping blood through the vessels efficiently and as a result blood clotting can occur. If one of the clots breaks loose and makes its way to the brain it could cause a stroke. In fact, a certain percentage of AFib patients are unaware they have the condition until it is discovered after a stroke occurs. Once you’ve answered the question “what is AFib,” and have accepted that you probably have the condition, it would be wise to take medications to regulate your heart rhythm in order to prevent or minimise the possibility of having a stroke.
2. Caffeine, Alcohol, and Cold/Allergy Medicine Can Make it Worse
People who ignore their AFib are at danger of making it worse by consuming caffeine, alcohol, and cold/allergy medications, all of which have been shown to make the palpitations worse. By acknowledging the problem and becoming aware of foods and substances that aggravate it you can avoid a potentially adverse reaction that could aggravate the condition.
3. Strenuous Exercise with AFib Can Be Dangerous
People who ignore their AFib and continue to exercise strenuously could be putting themselves at risk for worsening the condition or suffering a negative event like a stroke or heart attack. Although moderate exercise combined with plenty of rest can be good for someone with AFib, overdoing it and acting as though the problem doesn’t exist isn’t the best idea. People with AFib should consider light exercises like walking and bike riding instead of heavy weight lifting and long distance running.
4. It Can Lead to or Be a Sign of Other Cardiovascular Problems
Finally, another major reason why AFib shouldn’t be ignored is because it could be a sign of another underlying or associated condition. For example, many people with AFib also have high blood pressure or coronary artery disease (CAD). By having your AFib symptoms checked out and managed you can ensure that any other related conditions are discovered and treated as well.
Report Possible Symptoms to a Physician ASAP
If you notice persistent palpitations, chest pains, fluttering or intense heart beats, and/or a feeling of fatigue, dizziness, or weakness, you should report these symptoms to your physician immediately. Catching AFib early and working to regulate your heart rhythm could prevent you from having a stroke and help you eliminate the distracting and potentially harmful symptoms that many AFib patients often ignore.