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P1215 Women and Heart Disease

C H A P T E R 4 ATRIAL FIBRILLATION Atrial fibrillation High blood pressure is a major risk factor for atrial fibrillation, or Afib, the most common type of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) among Americans. The good news is that it’s possible to live a normal, active life, but you need to follow your healthcare provider’s guidelines. Afib appears to cause more severe health problems in women than in men, and scientists are working to find out why. Women with Afib have a higher rate of nonfatal cardiac events, such as stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure (a chronic condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the body). They also have more risk factors for heart and vascular disease, including smoking. Symptoms of atrial fibrillation (Afib) Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation(Afib) Just as no two women are the same, no two cases of Afib are the same. In fact, even in the same person, Afib can feel very different from one episode to the next. In general, Afib symptoms include: ■■ Very rapid or irregular heartbeats. Some women say they feel their heart flip-flopping in their chests, skipping a beat or fluttering. ■■ Unexplained shortness of breath ■■ Chest pain ■■ Weakness or difficulty exercising ■■ Dizziness or feeling faint ■■ Fatigue While many women have one or more of these symptoms, some don’t notice any. Others say they had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right with their body. Tell your healthcare provider about all your symptoms. Don’t wait to see if they go away on their own or try to diagnose yourself. Afib can occur: ■■ Every once in a while (called paroxysmal Afib) for a few seconds or days, and tends to go away on its own ■■ On an ongoing basis (persistent), but medications or electrical shock (cardioversion) can help the heart return to its normal rhythm ■■ All the time (persistent), which often requires certain medical procedures Just as no two women are the same, no two cases of Afib are the same. In fact, even in the same person, Afib can feel very different from one episode to the next. In general, Afib symptoms include: 77 Very rapid or irregular heartbeats. Some women say they feel their heart flipflopping in their chests, skipping a beat or fluttering. 77 Unexplained shortness of breath 77 Chest pain 77 Weakness or difficulty exercising 77 Dizziness or feeling faint 77 Fatigue While many women have one or more of these symptoms, some don’t notice any. Others say they had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right with their body. Tell your healthcare provider about all your symptoms. Don’t wait to see if they go away on their own or try to diagnose yourself. Afib can occur: 77 Every once in a while (called paroxysmal Afib) for a few seconds or days, and tends to go away on its own 77 On an ongoing basis (persistent), but medications or electrical shock (cardioversion) can help the heart return to its normal rhythm 77 All the time (persistent), which often requires certain medical procedures PLAY VIDEO Women and AFib © 2018 WomenHeart, ABC, CardioSmart, and StayWel . All rights reserved. Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Download/print this PDF ➠ © WomenHeart. All rights reserved. Used with permission. 14 abcardio.org


P1215 Women and Heart Disease
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