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Does Your Heart Skip a Beat? Know the Signs of Atrial Fibrillation

Posted by Emily Battmer on Sep, Wed 21, 2011

atrial fibrillation awarenessYour heart “skipping a beat” might sound romantic in a cheesy love song, but this can actually be a sign of a medical condition called atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is characterized by an irregular heartbeat. Symptoms of AFib might include a racing heartbeat, fluttering in the chest, heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, faintness, fatigue and sweating.

This condition affects quality of life; episodes can leave you feeling weak and can lead to sleep apnea and chronic fatigue. Many AFib patients report fear and difficulty concentrating when an episode occurs; sometimes they are forced to leave work or take a “time-out” from simple, day-to-day activities. But atrial fibrillation also goes beyond that. It can lead to serious, life-threatening health issues, like stroke and congestive heart failure. The threat that atrial fibrillation poses is significant.

Atrial Fibrillation & Stroke Risk

  • Atrial fibrillation accounts for 15-20% of strokes in the U.S.

  • Afib patients are five times more likely to have a stroke.

  • About 35% of afib patients will have a stroke during their lifetime.

  • 3 out of 4 AF-related strokes can be prevented.


If you have atrial fibrillation, you need to wear a medical ID bracelet. If you experience a stroke or heart failure, having “atrial fibrillation” engraved on your medical ID tag will help medical personnel pinpoint your condition and treat you more effectively. Additionally, if you have AFib, your doctor may put you on blood-thinning medication to prevent clots. This also needs to be engraved on your medical ID tag. Your doctor will be able to advise you on what to have engraved on your medical ID tag depending on your specific condition and medication(s). We recommend engraving your atrial fibrillation medical ID with the following information:

First and Last Name
Atrial Fibrillation
Known Allergies
Medications
Emergency Contact Number

Checking Your Pulse:

Since September is National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month, now is the time to educate yourself about AFib. Learn the warning signs and check your heartbeat for any irregularities. In just sixty seconds a month, you can help decrease your risk for stroke - simply by checking your pulse.

How do I check my pulse?

Place two fingers on the inside of your left wrist for 60 seconds, feeling for any irregular rhythm. If your heartbeat seems to have any irregularities, talk to your doctor. They can determine whether or not you have AFib with an electrocardiogram. It’s also important that you talk to your doctor about your treatment options and stroke risk.

Learn more about what you can do to prevent stroke with the Beat Your Odds Toolkit from the National Stroke Association.

Now it's your turn! Please share your atrial fibrillation insights or resources in the comments section.

Tags: atrial fibrillation

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