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New Palos Clinic Treats Patients with Heart Condition

Many things can cause the rapid beating of your heart: the sight of someone you love, a strenuous workout, a big presentation for the boss. However, if you suffer from Atrial Fibrillation (A Fib), your heart beats irregularly, sometimes too fast. A Fib is a serious condition that can impact daily life and cause health problems including stroke, heart failure and other complications. Each person’s experience with this condition is unique, requiring an individualized plan of care.

The Palos Atrial Fibrillation & Arrhythmia Clinic includes surgeons, electrophysiologists, cardiologists, advanced practice nurses, nurses and dietitians, all working together to meet the needs of patients with A Fib. They offer a multi-disciplinary approach to care including screening, education, and treatment.

Defining Atrial Fibrillation

In a normal heart, certain cells send out electric signals at regular intervals to indicate when the heart should pump and contract. In A Fib, these electric signals get sent unevenly. Some people may not notice the irregularity, while others may detect a fast heart rate or palpitations, pain in the chest, dizziness, fatigue or shortness of breath. Risk factors for A Fib include age over 65, recent heart surgery, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, heart, lung, or kidney disease, obesity, heart valve problems, and sleep apnea.

There are several different types of A Fib:

Paroxysmal or Intermittent A Fib - the heart goes in and out of normal rhythm on its own, and symptoms can be mild to severe. Intermittent A Fib is often without symptoms and found during a routine doctor visit.

Persistent A Fib - A Fib is considered persistent if the abnormal heart rhythm continues for more than a week and does not go away on its own. Patients with this condition who are at high risk for stroke may be candidates for procedures that target the source of the irregular heartbeat to restore normal rhythm.

Permanent A Fib - With this condition, a normal heart rhythm is more difficult to restore with treatment. Over time, both paroxysmal and chronic A Fib may become more frequent and could result in permanent A Fib.

Screening/Diagnosis

Screening includes discussing risk factors, checking for symptoms that could be due to A Fib, and performing an electrocardiogram (EKG) or using a monitor to show the electrical beating of the heart. These tests are non-invasive, and the heart rate is obtained through small pads attached directly to the skin on various areas of the body. A doctor then analyzes the results for the presence of A Fib.

Treatment

Treatment of A Fib involves resetting or controlling heart rate while preventing blood clots and decreasing the risk of stroke. Palos Atrial Fibrillation Clinic patients receive an individualized care plan that may include blood tests, EKG, functional evaluation, and one or more of the following:

Cardioversion – A procedure that restores normal heart rhythm either with electricity or drugs.

Medication – Drugs are given to control heart rate, rhythm, and prevent blood clots.

Catheter Ablation – Flexible tubing is used to electronically alter the heart, preventing abnormal electrical activity.

AV Node Ablation – An area of heart tissue is prevented from sending faulty electrical signals to control the heart rate.

Pacemaker – A device inserted in the heart to regulate slow heart beats and medically treat A Fib.

Maze – Surgical scarring is created to interfere with the stray electrical impulses that cause A Fib.

Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion (LAA) – An alternative for those who can’t take blood thinners and don’t have a valve problem, LAA occlusion can be either an implanted device or surgical procedure that helps reduce the risk of stroke.

Education

Palos Atrial Fibrillation & Arrhythmia Clinic provides comprehensive education for the patient, family members and caregivers. Education consists of identifying and modifying risk factors, promoting lifestyle changes through diet, nutrition, and smoking cessation counseling, learning how to take your pulse and what to do if the rate is too fast or too slow, monitoring symptoms, knowing when to seek medical attention, understanding treatment options, reviewing signs and symptoms of bleeding, supporting correct medication taking, and reviewing fall risk and prevention.  

If you believe the Palos Atrial Fibrillation & Arrhythmia Clinic can help your irregular and/or rapid heart rate, contact them at 708.923.5460.

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