Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm).
irregular heartbeat. The irregular heartbeat disrupts the flow of blood through the heart.
Treatment of atrial fibrillation represents a significant health care burden. The estimated cost of the treatment of atrial fibrillation in 2005 was $6.65 billion per year, including the costs of hospitalization, in- and outpatient physician care, and medications.
An estimated 2.66 million people will have atrial fibrillation in 2010. As many as 12 million people will have the condition by 2050.3
The incidence of atrial fibrillation increases with age.1 The median age for patients with atrial fibrillation is 66.8 years for men and 74.6 years for women.
The mortality rate from atrial fibrillation as either the primary or an underlying cause of death has been increasing for more than two decades.
African Americans experience atrial fibrillation at much lower rates than whites. Risk factors for atrial fibrillation include high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, advanced age, hyperthyroidism,
and heart disease.
o Irregular or rapid heartbeat
o Lightheadedness, extreme fatigue
o Shortness of breath chest pain
However, not all people with atrial fibrillation experience symptoms.
Atrial fibrillation treatments include:
o Medications to control the rhythm and rate of the heart
o Medication that thins the blood to prevent blood clot formation and reduces the risk of having a stroke
o Medication and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk factors for atrial fibrillation, which include high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes
Stroke and heart failure are the two most common complications of atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is responsible for 15 to 20 percent of ischemic strokes. During an ischemic stroke, blood flow to the brain is blocked by blood clots or fatty deposits called plaque in blood vessel linings. Atrial fibrillation increases one's risk of suffering an ischemic stroke by five times.