Nearly 3 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, one of the most common arrhythmias and a condition that can cause blood clots, stroke, and heart failure when it goes untreated. As a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of atrial fibrillation, Michael Avaricio, MD, at Advanced Cardiac Care PLLC offers the comprehensive care you need to maintain a normal heart rhythm and continue to live an active, healthy life. To schedule an appointment, call the office in the Ozone Park area of Queens, New York, or use the online booking feature.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an irregular heartbeat that occurs when the heart’s electrical system doesn’t work properly. Each heartbeat begins when the heart’s pacemaker, the sinoatrial node, sends out an electrical signal. The signal follows a pathway through your heart that triggers muscle contractions in each of the heart’s four chambers.
Muscle contractions in your heart must occur in a precise order and timing to maintain a normal heart rhythm. AFib occurs when the electrical impulse originates from an area in your heart other than the sinoatrial node.
As a result, the electrical signals become chaotic, causing the two upper chambers to beat in a fast and disorganized pattern. Since these muscle contractions aren’t coordinated, blood doesn’t flow through your heart properly.
In most patients, AFib is caused by changes in the heart’s structure due to many possible health conditions, including:
Though it’s not common, you may develop AFib without heart damage.
The most common AFib symptom is the sensation of a fluttering heartbeat, a feeling you develop when muscles in the upper chambers quiver or fibrillate. You may also experience:
Your symptoms may come and go or become constant. When AFib goes untreated, you’re at risk of developing blood clots that can leave your heart, travel through your body, and cause serious complications such as stroke.
Dr. Avaricio may order one or more diagnostic tests such as blood work, an EKG, an echocardiogram, or a stress test. He may ask you to wear a Holter monitor that records your heart’s electrical activity for a day or longer.
Your treatment begins by addressing any underlying conditions responsible for your AFib. From there, Dr. Avaricio may recommend:
Several types of medications are available to slow down or stabilize your heart rate. Dr. Avaricio may also prescribe blood thinners to prevent blood clots.
Dr. Avaricio may perform minimally invasive surgery such as:
Catheter ablation, to destroy the tissues causing your arrhythmia
Electrical cardioversion, to restore your heart rhythm using low-energy electric shocks
Pacemaker insertion, to treat AFib when it’s triggered by a slow heartbeat
If you develop a fast or fluttery heartbeat, call Advanced Cardiac Care or schedule an appointment online.