Atrial fibrillation is a common heart rhythm disturbance. Although it is classified as an arrhythmia it is such a common heart rhythm problem it has been given a category of it’s own. You may already have been diagnosed as having atrial fibrillation perhaps by your GP through a routine health check. Alternatively you may be getting palpitations with your heartbeat feeling very irregular with atrial fibrillation as a possible diagnosis.
Atrial fibrillation occurs due to a disturbance of the heart rhythm of one of the chambers of the heart (the left atrium). Atrial fibrillation can cause palpitations that can make a patient feel very uncomfortable. Although these symptoms are troublesome they can be controlled with certain medications to control the heart rate or try and keep the heart rhythm normal.
Atrial fibrillation and stroke risk
The main risk with atrial fibrillation is that it can potentially increase the risk of a patient developing a stroke. Not everybody with atrial fibrillation is at risk of a stroke and having other risk factors such as a previous stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure or over a certain age (65 years) can increase your stroe risk. If you do already have AF with an increased risk of stroke it may be necessary to start treatment to keep the blood thin. This is called anticoagulation and there are two types of anticoagulants – warfarin or ‘novel anticoagulants’.
You may already be taking warfarin and wish to explore the possibility of a novel anticoagulant or you may have been newly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and offered anticoagulation but are unsure of what treatment to have. If you wish to discuss the treatment for your atrial fibrillation with a specialist who can help with the most up-to-date advice please make an appointment.