According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 6 million people in the United States have atrial ﬁbrillation. AFib is characterized by rapid and irregular beating of the upper chambers of the heart which can cause rapid heart rates
of the lower chambers of the heart leading to symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, dizziness and fainting. These rapid and irregular beats if left untreated over time can increase the risk for heart failure, stroke, and death. The
following are common myths associated with AFib:
Myth: I am too young to get atrial ﬁbrillation.
Fact: While atrial ﬁbrillation does increase in prevalence as we age, medical conditions like sleep apnea, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, thyroid disease, coronary disease, family history, and other conditions
can increase the chance of developing atrial fibrillation at a younger age.
Myth: Atrial ﬁbrillation can’t be treated.
Fact: Atrial ﬁbrillation cannot be cured; however, there are many treatment options including medications, cardioversions (electrical shocks to the heart) and invasive cardiac procedures called ablations that can help restore the normal
heart rhythm and improve quality of life.
Myth: Having atrial ﬁbrillation means I need a pacemaker or heart surgery.
Fact: Pacemakers are usually not needed except in unique situations. Ablation procedures are often good options to treat atrial ﬁbrillation and do not require open heart surgery to be performed. Medications may control symptoms of atrial
ﬁbrillation so that invasive procedures might not be necessary. A detailed discussion with your heart rhythm specialist (EP doctor) can help tailor the best therapy for you.
Myth: I will not be able to live a normal, active life with atrial ﬁbrillation.
Fact: The great majority of atrial ﬁbrillation patients can live a normal life through various treatment options.
Myth: I had heart palpitations the other day, so this must mean I have atrial ﬁbrillation.
Fact: Palpitations—or fast, irregular heartbeats—are a very non-speciﬁc symptom. They can be due to atrial ﬁbrillation but can also be caused by a variety of other heart rhythm disorders as well as non-heart related conditions.
Your doctor may want to order testing including heart monitors to determine the exact cause of the palpitations.
Myth: Atrial ﬁbrillation only causes heart complications.
Fact: The main non-cardiac risk with having atrial ﬁbrillation is a stroke. Blood clots can form in the heart when you are in atrial ﬁbrillation, and these can go to the brain and cause strokes.