Atrial fibrillation, the most common cardiac arrhythmia, affects 2.7-6 million people in the United States, making each person five times more likely to have a stroke compared to healthy people. At Sunshine Cardiovascular & Vein in New Port Richey, Florida, Satish Sivasankaran, MD, MRCP(UK), FACC, MBA, or Dr. Siva, as his patients call him, specializes in identifying the underlying cause of your atrial fibrillation and providing comprehensive medical and interventional care to restore your heart’s normal rhythm. If you develop heart palpitations or shortness of breath, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.
Atrial fibrillation occurs when abnormal electrical activity in your heart leads to an irregular heartbeat. In most cases, you also develop a rapid heartbeat.
Your heart’s electrical system normally triggers regular muscle contractions that push blood through the four chambers of the heart.
You develop atrial fibrillation when the two upper chambers, the right and left atria, quiver and beat irregularly and chaotically. The altered heart rhythm hinders blood flow through your heart.
The irregular heartbeat caused by atrial fibrillation allows blood to pool in your heart, which leads to blood clots. A serious complication occurs when a clot leaves your heart, reaches your brain, and causes a stroke. Medical experts estimate that atrial fibrillation is the cause of 15-20% of all strokes.
Atrial fibrillation develops when your heart sustains damage due to:
Your risk of developing atrial fibrillation is higher if you have a family history of heart disease, or you have a diagnosis of a health condition such as sick sinus syndrome, obesity, diabetes, lung disease, or obstructive sleep apnea.
Stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and certain medications may also raise your risk for atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation causes symptoms such as:
Your symptoms may come and go or remain constant.
After performing diagnostic testing such as an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, and stress testing. Dr. Siva at Sunshine Cardiovascular & Vein may recommend monitoring your heartbeat with a Holter monitor or LINQ™ device. After diagnosing atrial fibrillation, Dr. Siva creates a customized treatment plan that may include:
Making lifestyle changes as needed can help prevent atrial fibrillation and they’re an important part of your treatment after you’re diagnosed with the condition.
You can improve your heart health by eating a healthy diet, getting more exercise, avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing stress.
It’s also important to limit your exposure to stimulants because they trigger a rapid heartbeat. Common stimulants to avoid include caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and some over-the-counter cold and cough medications.
If an underlying condition causes your atrial fibrillation, treating that condition may also eliminate your heart arrhythmia.
Treatment for atrial fibrillation includes blood thinners to prevent blood clots. There are two types of blood thinners, warfarin and novel anticoagulation medications such as Eliquis® and Xarelto®.
Warfarin needs frequent monitoring and diet restrictions, while the novel medications have a more predictable action and don’t need monitoring or diet restrictions.
Dr. Siva may prescribe one of several possible medications that slow your heart rate or convert an irregular heartbeat to a regular rhythm. Antiarrhythmic medications include amiodarone, sotalol, propafenone, and Tikosyn®.
Dr. Siva may do a procedure called transesophageal echocardiogram to ensure there is no clot in the heart and then perform cardioversion. This is also called "shocking" the heart and is done with the patient sleeping under anesthesia. It is a simple procedure and has a 70% chance of success. Patients go home in a few hours.
Dr. Siva may recommend an ablation procedure. A catheter is advanced through your veins to the area where the atrial fibrillation originates. Radiofrequency energy is used to scar the malfunctioning tissue, stopping the abnormal electrical rhythm and allowing your heart to return to its regular beat.
Some patients may be good candidates for a WATCHMAN implant. A device is placed in a small appendage inside your heart where most blood clots form. The WATCHMAN blocks that area and reduces your risk of blood clots.
If you develop palpitations, chest pain, or shortness of breath, call Sunshine Cardiovascular & Vein for a complete evaluation.
We are located in 5340 Gulf Drive, Suite 101, New Port Richey, FL 34652. Call us to book your appointment today.
Regular versus irregular heart rhythm.
Regular Normal heart beat verses irregular atrial fibrillation.
Risk factors for atrial fibrillation
Irregular atrial fibrillation versus Regular atrial flutter with sawtooth waves versus ventricular fibrillation that originate from the bottom chamber of the heart.
Electrical cardioversion or (shock) for atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter.
Cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter.
Ablation performed in electrophysiology lab.
Successful ablation of atrial fibrillation