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Key Concepts in Managing Afib

Key Concepts in Managing Afib

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is the most common sustained heart rhythm disorder, affecting about 3 million American adults. The condition accounts for about 80,000 deaths each year in the United States, and its prevalence is projected to increase to 8 to 12 million over the next 30 to 40 years. “In addition to decreasing quality of life, AFib also dramatically increases the risk of stroke,” says Hugh Calkins, MD. The stroke rate among patients with AFib is increased about fivefold. Studies show that the likelihood of developing AFib increases markedly with age. Afib is rare prior to the age of 50, but its prevalence increases dramatically thereafter. By the age of 80, one in 10 individuals has AFib. It is the most common heart rhythm abnormality in people older than 65, and about 70% of AFib patients are between the ages of 65 and 85.  Other factors that increase the risk of developing AFib include male gender, hypertension, heart failure, family history, sleep apnea, and obesity. Making an AFib Diagnosis It can be challenging to diagnosis AFib because the signs and symptoms vary (Table 1). Some patients present with severe palpitations or presyncope, while others have no symptoms, with AFib first being detected on a routine physical examination. It is for this reason that the Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) encourages patients to check their pulse. If a patient detects a highly irregular pulse, a screening electrocardiogram (ECG) is advised. Continuous ECG monitoring systems are invaluable to detect AFib.               Guidelines recommend that patients who initially present with AFib be assessed using the CHA2DS2VASc risk...
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