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 Benefits and Risks of Dietary Vitamin K

When you bite into a forkful of dark, leafy greens like kale or spinach, you ingest lots of vitamin K. That’s good, because K is crucial for your health, especially for blood clotting and bone strength.

But vitamin K is sometimes misunderstood. Because of its clotting properties, it can interfere with

Less is More in CVD Screening

Can adding electrocardiography (ECG) to standard screening help health-care providers better protect healthy patients from developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)? Probably not, says the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). In fact, it may actually put patients at risk.

Current Screening Standards. Standard risk assessment for cardiovascular disease often begins with a tool such as

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3. Know Your Cardiovascular Risk

You get regular exercise, eat right, and don’t smoke, and you have no symptoms that suggest heart trouble, so you assume that your risk for a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event is low. However, regardless of how healthy your lifestyle is, you need to be aware of the

2. Cholesterol and Your Heart

To understand how cholesterol affects your cardiovascular health, it helps to understand the workings of your heart and vascular system.
The Heart
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Blood Pressure Medication: Which Is the Right One for You?

Blood Pressure Medication: Which Is the Right One for You?

A third or more of Americans have high blood pressure, or hypertension. What is high blood pressure? When the heart pumps, the pressure against the walls of your arteries is abnormally high. The excess pressure, if not controlled, puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and other serious

8. Treating Hypertension

Usually, a diagnosis of hypertension comes with a prescription for a blood-pressure-lowering, or antihypertensive, medication. Eventually, many people with hypertension require two or more drugs to control their blood pressure. In many cases, people diagnosed with higher blood pressure may begin antihypertensive treatment with multiple medications.
You and your doctor have

4. How High Blood Pressure Harms Health

There’s a good reason why high blood pressure is called the “silent killer.” While hypertension remains insidious, it is stealthily damaging not only your arteries, but every organ, tissue, and system in the body. Since all your body’s organs and tissues require the vital oxygen and nutrients from the blood

3. High Blood Pressure Risk Factors

“What can I do to reduce my risk?” That’s one of the most common questions physicians receive from patients when discussing their likelihood of developing a chronic medical condition. Like these patients, you want to be proactive about your health. You want to do everything in your power to prevent

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