Atrial fibrillation is a type of heart arrhythmia that can significantly increase your risk of having a stroke. In fact, the CDC says atrial fibrillation (or Afib) causes 1 in 7 strokes.

Afib happens when the upper and lower chambers of your heart are out of sync. As many as 6.1 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, a number that’s expected to double by 2030.

Like other heart-related issues, early treatment is important for preventing serious complications. That’s why it’s so important to learn to recognize the signs of Afib.

Ashish Pal, MD, and the team at Vein & Cardiovascular Center are dedicated to reducing the complications of atrial fibrillation. In addition to offering cutting-edge treatments, Dr. Pal helps patients recognize common symptoms, so they can seek medical help as soon as possible.

Here are five common signs he wants you to know about.

1. Heart flutter

Pretty much everyone experiences a skipped heartbeat at some point. An occasional flutter typically is nothing to worry about.

But if you continually feel like your heart is fluttering or beating in a light or irregular way, it could be a sign of atrial fibrillation. Some people describe this type of fluttering as palpitations.

2. Fatigue

Your body depends on a regular flow of oxygen-rich blood to function normally, and that means it also depends on your heart pumping blood the way it’s supposed to.

With Afib, your heart beats irregularly, interfering with blood flow to the rest of your body. It’s not uncommon to feel unusually tired or fatigued, even if you feel like you’re getting plenty of rest.

3. Shortness of breath

Afib can cause shortness of breath in a couple of ways. If your heart is beating more rapidly than normal, it’s like your heart is doing strenuous aerobics — all the time. As with physical exercise, the increase in your heart rate can make you feel like you’re short of breath.

Advanced Afib reduces blood flow to the lungs, allowing fluid to build up in and around your lungs. Over time, this type of disease can cause heart failure as well as shortness of breath.

4. Dizziness or lightheadedness

Dizziness is another sign of Afib, and it’s one that’s often ignored or overlooked. When your heart beats irregularly or rapidly, it interferes with circulation to your brain, and that can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. Some people even faint.

5. Chest pain

Your heart depends on regular blood flow just like the rest of your organs. If Afib is interfering with your circulation, it can decrease the amount of blood reaching your heart, leading to chest pain, also known as angina.

Atrial fibrillation increases your risks for stroke, heart failure, and dangerous blood clots, but there are treatments that can help.

To learn more about Afib treatments at our offices in Orlando, Sebring, and Davenport, Florida, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Pal and the team at Vein & Cardiovascular Center today.

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