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
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.
It’s the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the most common cause of adult disability. As alarming as those statistics are, you may be surprised to learn that 80 percent of strokes are preventable.
“That statistic from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association speaks to the combination of
Q: My doctor diagnosed my sudden leg weakness as a medication-related magnesium deficiency. What medications can cause deficiencies?
A: Nutritional deficiencies are a common and under-recognized side effect of many medications. Here are some of the most common offenders:
ACE inhibitors, used to treat hypertension, deplete zinc.
Aluminum antacids and calcium carbonate,
Fried Food Linked to Heart-Related Death in Women
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Blood-thinning medications called anticoagulants have long been recommended for managing atrial fibrillation (Afib), an abnormal heart rhythm that raises the risk of stroke. Until 2010, the only available oral anticoagulant was warfarin (Coumadin®), and it remains the most commonly prescribed anticoagulant due to its efficacy and low cost. But in
Each year, about 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these individuals, 140,000 die, and many survivors are left with long-term complications and disabilities. “A stroke happens because blood flow in the brain is interrupted by a blood clot or a ruptured
To fully appreciate the importance of following a heart-healthy lifestyle, it’s helpful to understand the impact that cardiovascular disease (a term that refers to conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels) has on the population of the United States. Consider these 2018 statistics from the American Heart Association (AHA):
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High cholesterol can have wide-ranging effects—both direct and indirect—on your heart and several other organs served by your vascular system. As cholesterol builds in the arteries of your heart, brain, and throughout your body, it usually does so silently. In some cases, the first signs of atherosclerosis may be a
About 8 percent of Americans take fish oil supplements, likely due to research suggesting they may help protect heart health. However, two trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Nov. 10, 2018, show mixed results on the benefits of fish oil. If you’re taking it, should you