Hi, I’m Dr. Hurst and in this article, I will answer the question: What is Atrial Fibrillation? (which is often shortened to Afib) and I will also discuss the four types of Afib.
Afib is the most common heart rhythm problem we see in cardiology.
It is estimated that as many as 6 million people in the United States have afib and the numbers are increasing at epidemic levels. Experts predict that 12 million people will have Afib by the year 2030 due to our aging population and the increased numbers of people with high blood pressure and unhealthy weight.
Article continues after this video
So, what is Afib?
Afib is a problem with the heart’s electrical signals, so that rather than beating in a regular coordinated fashion, the electrical signals are chaotic and cause the heartbeat to be irregular and often faster than normal. Many people with Afib are on medications to slow their heart rate down.
Afib is often broken down into 4 types depending on how long does it last and what is done to stop it.
- Paroxysmal Afib is Afib that comes and goes.
- Persistent Afib is AF that lasts longer than seven days.
- Long-standing persistent Afib is when someone has been in consistent Afib for more than 12 months.
- Permanent Afib, this term is used when the patient and clinician make a joint decision to stop further attempts to restore and/or maintain sinus rhythm.
The primary reason Afib is important is because of the increased risk of stroke. But there is also an increased risk of heart failure, dementia and even death in those with Afib.