Tag: atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is an arrhythmia in the top chambers of the heart (atria) causing uncoordinated muscular contractions that weaken the heart’s ability to pump. It is characterized by rapid and irregular beating.

Often it starts as brief periods of abnormal beating which become longer and possibly constant over time. Most episodes have no symptoms. Occasionally there may be heart palpitations, fainting, shortness of breath, or chest pain. The disease increases the risk of heart failure, dementia, and stroke.

Although atrial fibrillation itself usually isn’t life-threatening, it is a serious medical condition that sometimes requires emergency treatment.

Hypertension and valvular heart disease are the most common alterable risk factors for AF. Other heart-related risk factors include heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and congenital heart disease. In the developing world, valvular heart disease often occurs as a result of rheumatic fever. Lung-related risk factors include COPD, obesity, and sleep apnea.

Other factors include excess alcohol intake, diabetes mellitus, and thyrotoxicosis. However, half of cases are not associated with one of these risks.

A diagnosis is made by feeling the pulse and may be confirmed using an electrocardiogram (ECG). The typical ECG shows no P waves and an irregular ventricular rate.

AF is often treated with medications to slow the heart rate to a near normal range (known as rate control) or to convert the rhythm to normal sinus rhythm (known as rhythm control). Electrical cardioversion can also be used to convert AF to a normal sinus rhythm and is often used emergently if the person is unstable. Ablation may prevent recurrence in some people. Depending on the risk of stroke, either aspirin or anti-clotting medications such as warfarin or a novel oral anticoagulant may be recommended. While these medications reduce this risk, they increase rates of major bleeding.

The 4 Heart Problem Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

The 4 Heart Problem Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., so it’s important that you can recognize the signs of a heart problem. Symptoms of heart disease, also called coronary artery disease (CAD), abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), and heart failure sometimes overlap.
But if you’re at risk for any

Dementia Types: Reversible and Irreversible Dementia

Dementia Types: Reversible and Irreversible Dementia

Various dementia types can be caused by medical or psychiatric conditions, among them high fever, vitamin deficiency, head trauma, or depression. These are the so-called “reversible dementias.” Other dementia types are irreversible and—if you’re wondering, “Is dementia hereditary?”—can be caused by family genes.
Let’s look at reversible dementias first. It’s important

Cardiac Tests Can Reveal a Wealth of Information

If your doctor suspects you have heart disease, you may be advised to undergo cardiac tests to diagnose your condition. These tests range from simple, non-invasive screenings to more involved procedures that may include the use of high-tech imaging equipment.

“Typically, these tests are ordered in response to symptoms such as

Q&A: Balance; Stroke Prevention; Vitamin C

Q. Ever since I began to take Coumadin for atrial fibrillation I have a fear of falling and bleeding. What can I do to improve my balance?
A. Strengthening your core muscles—those in your abdomen, back and hips—would be the best thing for you to do. Core strength is related to

2014 Index

Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia/Memory
Cardiovascular disease linked with higher risk of cognitive decline (Apr., 2)

Factors other than dementia may affect your memory (Dec., 3)

Memory aids can help compensate for mild cognitive impairment (Jan., 3)

New tests for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease (Oct., 6)

What PET scans and other imaging tests reveal about brain health

Physical Activity Decreases Risks of Breast Cancer and Atrial Fibrillation

Recent research shows that, when a woman exercises regularly, she may lower her risks of invasive breast cancer and atrial fibrillation. Other benefits of being active include cardiovascular, metabolic, musculoskeletal, and psychological advantages, as well as improved sleep and weight control.

For good health, the importance of moving your body cannot

What Is Vascular Dementia?

What Is Vascular Dementia?

Vascular dementia (VaD) ranks second among memory loss causes after Alzheimer’s disease, yet it is often overlooked. But what is vascular dementia?
The condition is caused by vascular problems affecting memory regions and supporting structures in the brain, and is closely associated with cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease. Causes of vascular

Newsbriefs: Walking; Statins; Painkillers; Cholesterol Drugs

Walking Enhances Creativity.
A recent study at Stanford University by  Dr. Marily Oppezzo shows that creativity increases substantially when participants take a walk. Dr. Oppezzo gathered volunteer undergraduates to complete tests of creativity, such as finding alternative uses for common objects (such as a button). Then the students, who met in

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