AFib (atrial fibrillation) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. Right now at least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.
Normally, the heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In AFib, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles. If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results. About 15–20 percent of people who have strokes have AFib.
The amazing thing about AFib is that many people with this condition don’t even realize they have it.
Sometimes there are no symptoms and the condition is only detectable upon physical examination. Still, others may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- General fatigue
- Rapid and irregular heartbeat
- Fluttering or “thumping” in the chest
- Shortness of breath and anxiety
- Faintness or confusion
- Fatigue when exercising
- *Chest pain or pressure
*Chest pain or pressure is a medical emergency. You may be having a heart attack. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
AFib left untreated can lead to a stroke. Here are the warning signs as per Heart.org:
AFib: New Heart Monitor Tracks Rhythms 24/7
The FDA-approved Zio patch, made by iRhythm Technologies is a 2-by-5-inch adhesive patch, much like a bandage, and is worn on the upper left side of the chest. It is water resistant and can be kept on even while a person exercises or takes a shower. The wireless patch continuously monitors heart rhythms, storing up to two weeks of EKG data for later analysis.
Continuous monitoring of the heart provides accurate diagnosis of AFib compared to the current 24-48 hr monitoring. Indeed, National Institute of health researchers conducted a year-long study of 1,700 participants wearing the Zio patch. At the end of the year, about 6 percent who used the Zio patch at home were diagnosed with AFib compared to about 2 percent of controls who didn’t use the patch.
The Zio patch group were also more likely to start taking anticoagulant medications and visit their primary care doctors and/or a cardiologist.