AF is a common heart rhythm disorder. Electrical activities are abnormally fast in the atria and the frequency of electrical impulses can be over 300 per minute. This leads to abnormally fast and irregular electrical activation in the ventricles and felt by the patients as palpitations. With the frequent electrical activities of the atria, there is no effective atrial contraction and patients are prone to develop stroke.
What are the risk factors for AF?
Risk factors for AF include older age, hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic lung disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease and obstructive sleep apnoea.
What are the consequences of AF?
Although it is not immediately life-threatening for patients with AF, complications include stroke and heart failure may occur in the long-run. On the other hand, mortality is also increased in patients with AF.
When do I see a doctor for AF consultation?
As soon as you notice the symptoms of AF, contact your doctor. Even if your symptoms go away, it’s still important to have an assessment by your doctor.
What treatments should I expect when diagnosed with AF?
Many patients with AF are at high risk of developing stroke. Blood thinning medications or medically named as oral anticoagulants are highly effective in reducing the risk for stroke. Other medications may be given for controlling of heart rate and heart rhythm. Discuss with your doctors for the most appropriate treatment approach.
I am diagnosed with AF but do not encounter any AF symptoms, am I still at risk for stroke?
Yes! Many people with AF have no symptom but they are still at risk of developing stroke. Blood thinning medications or medically named oral anticoagulants are highly effective in reducing the risk of stroke even in patients with asymptomatic AF.
Does having AF mean I need to wear a medical alert bracelet or carry a card in my wallet?
In any emergency, having a patient’s medical history is helpful. Be sure to write down the medication and dose. If you’re taking oral anticoagulant medications (blood thinners), consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or carrying a wallet card so that healthcare professionals know how to best care for you when an emergency occurs.
Can I tell when I’m going to have an episode of AF?
Common triggers for AF include: caffeine, stress or anxiety, poor sleep and excessive alcohol.
Am I able to have exercise or sex?
Yes, as long as you’re cleared by your doctor, you can perform normal activities of daily living that you can tolerate.
Most people with AF can but check with your doctor. Some people may experience dizziness or fainting with their AF episodes.
Is AF curable or is it a permanent condition?
We don’t usually say that AF is curable.
Can I die from an episode of AF?
AF is in general not immediately life-threatening. However, complication like stroke arising from AF can be life-threatening. Therefore, the most important thing you should do is work with your doctor or other health care professionals to make sure you’re doing all you can to prevent complications that could occur as a result of AF.