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What is AFIB and What Seniors Need to Know
When you put your hand on your chest, do you feel your heart’s familiar beat? When you or a loved one have atrial fibrillation (AFIB), that familiar heartbeat that you’re accustomed to feeling becomes a racing heartbeat that can last for a few minutes or more. With individuals between the ages of 65 to 82 accounting for 70% of all AFIB cases in the U.S., it’s important to understand what this condition is and what you can do to manage it.
What is AFIB
Atrial fibrillation is a condition of the heart where faulty electrical signals make your heart flutter or beat faster than normal for an extended period of time. This abnormal rhythm stops your heart from pumping as well as it should and can also slow your blood flow enough to form blood clots. It can also raise your chances for a stroke and other heart complications. Excessive alcohol consumption, hypertension, and an overactive thyroid gland are some of the most common causes of AFIB in seniors.
What are the Symptoms?
While a racing or pounding heart is typically most common with AFIB, not all cases include these symptoms. Below are the most common symptoms individuals experience:
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain and pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling overly sweaty
Managing AFIB in Seniors
While anyone of any age can experience AFIB, it becomes more common, and in some cases, more severe as you age. It is a concern for seniors because they are five times more likely to suffer a stroke when experiencing AFIB.
As a caregiver or a senior with AFIB, it’s important to spot the symptoms early and contact a doctor right away when symptoms are present. Typically, a blood thinner is given to senior patients to reduce the risk of blood clotting and AFIB in general. Reduced physical activity is normally prescribed to seniors to decrease the chances of falling, overexerting of the heart, breathing issues, and more. Keeping a close eye on yourself or a loved one with AFIB is vital to help manage the condition.