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Afib Symptoms and Signs: Preventing Atrial Fibrillation

Prevention of Atrial Fibrillation (Afib)

Atrial fibrillation or Afib, is the most common heart rhythm problem seen by cardiologists and is increasing at epidemic levels. Afib occurs when the usual regular rhythm (called sinus rhythm) is replaced in the heart’s top chambers (the atria) with chaotic electrical signals. This is why atrial fibrillation causes an irregular and often fast heartbeat.

If you have Afib and you’re looking to lower your risk of complications of Afib and get the best chance to reverse Afib, it’s time to talk to our team. HealthspanMD™ specializes in working with people like you to provide personalized, comprehensive, and connected care needed to help establish your best treatment plan to lower the risk of stroke, heart failure, dementia, and early death that often comes with Afib and also give you the best chance to reverse your Afib.  

If you’re ready to receive some of the best comprehensive healthcare near Phoenix and reverse your atrial fibrillation symptoms, HealthspanMD™ is ready to help. Call our offices in Phoenix, Arizona or schedule your first appointment with us online today.

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What is the Best Treatment for Irregular Heartbeat?

Atrial Fibrillation Management & Prevention

Afib symptoms and signs don’t happen for everyone who has it. While Afib can occur without causing any symptoms, it can still be a hazardous health problem because it increases the risk of stroke by five times, heart failure by three times, and dementia and early death by two times.

Here are the five most common treatable drivers of atrial fibrillation:

  • Unhealthy weight. The most common treatable cause for Afib and the one that research shows can be very powerful in lowering the risk of recurrent Afib. Research shows that if you are overweight, you can increase your chances of being free of Afib by up to 11 times, that’s 1,100 percent, by losing weight and getting more fit. Not to mention all the other benefits of improving your health.
  • Poorly controlled blood pressure. Nationwide, less than ½ of people with high blood pressure have it controlled. This is unacceptable because we know exactly what works in lowering blood pressure. And getting your blood pressure controlled not only improves your Afib, but it also reduces your risk of stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.
  • Untreated sleep apnea. Experts estimate that 80% of people with sleep apnea don’t know it. Sleep apnea is a common “hidden” cause of Afib in my practice. If you snore or your partner says you quit breathing during sleep or you wake up feeling tired and unrested, talk to your doctor about being screened for sleep apnea.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Along with healthy weight loss, regular exercise and improved fitness are potent tools to lower your risk for recurrent Afib. However, there is a level of exercise that can actually increase your Afib.  Endurance level athletes that participate in triathlons and marathons are at increased risk for Afib, but for most of us, exercise is a powerful treatment for Afib.
  • Excess alcohol consumption. We have long known that excess alcohol can cause Afib.  “Holiday Heart” is a phrase doctors sometimes use in reference to people who develop Afib over the holidays due to excess drinking. More recent research suggests that the optimal amount of alcohol for those with Afib maybe none. Even two drinks a day has been shown to increase the risk for Afib.

Treatment should start with reducing the most worrisome complication of Afib which is stroke. Those who suffer from Afib are five times more likely to experience a stroke. Afib causes nearly 20% of all strokes and when strokes occur due to Afib, they tend to be larger and have a higher death or permanent disability rate. Blood thinner medications are often recommended for high-risk patients with Afib to prevent stroke. 

Besides stroke prevention, the medical treatment of Afib can include irregular heartbeat medication and an atrial fibrillation procedure called ablation. Unfortunately, these treatments are often not as effective as we’d like them to be. A recent large research study of the treatment of Afib called the CABANA trial noted that only about 50% of those treated with ablation and about 30% treated with medications were free of Afib after 4 years. However, while the treatment statistics for Afib are not particularly encouraging, research shows a comprehensive approach to Afib that includes weight loss, improving fitness, optimizing blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar numbers, minimizing alcohol and addressing sleep issues can dramatically improve the chances of reversing Afib.

The CARDIO-FIT trial showed that people with Afib who were overweight who lost 10% of their body weight and improved their fitness, increased the likelihood of being free from Afib after four years from 34% to 94% compared to those who relied on just medications and ablations and did not lose weight or get more fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes atrial fibrillation?

Afib is a complex problem with many different potential causes.  And not everyone has an underlying cause.  For some people, it’s genetic – or they have a reason that is not changeable, like a heart problem or other health issue that makes them more likely to have Afib. 

However, many people with Afib have a cause that, if not addressed, will make them much more likely to have more Afib in the future: hence the drivers listed above.

You’ve mentioned exercise as a way to prevent Afib. What kinds of physical activity are expected in the HealthspanMD™ program?

Physical activity is the fountain of youth – essential to staying young and avoiding disease and healing your metabolism. The problem is for many, exercise is a burden – a mandatory way to burn calories. It doesn’t feel good, and it is hard to stick to it. 

On the other hand, some are regularly active, but aren’t doing the best activities to achieve their health, weight, and longevity goals. 

At HealthspanMD™, we address both groups by helping our clients build a personalized longevity physical activity system that helps them go at their pace to address the four aspects of physical activity essential to a long, vital life:

  • Aerobic activity
  • Strength training
  • Stability/core/balance/purposeful movement 
  • NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis)/not sitting

Research shows that those who have Afib and are overweight can increase the chances of being free of Afib by 1,100%  by combining expert medical care with a comprehensive approach like the HealthspanMD™ program. 

Do you accept health insurance for atrial fibrillation management?

Yes! HealthspanMD™ is proud to accept insurance from most major providers, including Medicare. View our Insurance page to see our full list of accepted providers, and if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly, knowledgeable staff.

How can I get started with the best health care center near me?

At HealthspanMD™, we make it easy to take the first step toward achieving your health, weight, and longevity goals. Just press the Request an Appointment button to schedule your first consultation. You’ll meet with Dr. Hurst to create your Healthspan Action Plan and get clear on your best opportunities to achieve your goals.

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Irregular Heartbeat? Visit Your Preventive Cardiologist Today!

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