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September is National Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) Awareness Month

Published on 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Did You Know?

  • An estimated 12.1 million people will have A-Fib in 2030,
  • In 2019, A-fib was mentioned on 183,321 death certificates and was the underlying cause of death in 26,535 of those deaths,
  • People of European descent are more likely to have A-fib than African Americans, and
  • Because the number of A-fib cases increases with age and women generally live longer than men, more women than men experience A-fib.

Why it Matters?

  • More than 454,000 hospitalizations with A-fib as the primary diagnosis happen each year in the United States,
  • A-fib increases a person’s risk of stroke. In fact, A-fib causes 1 in 7 strokes and strokes caused by A-fib tend to be more severe than strokes with other underlying causes, and
  • The death rate from A-fib as the primary or a contributing cause of death has been rising for more than two decades.

What Can I Do?

Know the risk factors for A-fib
  • Advancing age,
  • Family member with a history of A-fib increases your chances of having A-fib,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Obesity,
  • European ancestry,
  • Diabetes,
  • Heart failure,
  • Ischemic heart disease,
  • Hyperthyroidism,
  • Chronic Kidney Disease,
  • Moderate to heavy alcohol use,
  • Smoking,
  • Enlargement of the chambers on the left side of the heart,
  • A-fib is the most common complication after heart surgery,
Know the symptoms of A-fib
  • Irregular heartbeat,
  • Heart palpitations (rapid, fluttering, or pounding),
  • Lightheadedness,
  • Extreme fatigue,
  • Shortness of breath, and
  • Chest pain.

Note, it is possible to have no symptoms, or in my mom’s experience, she thought was having panic attacks when on further study by her physician, she was experiencing episodes of A-fib.

Know Common “Triggers” That May Cause an Episode of A-fib
  • Caffeine and energy drinks. The American Heart Association notes that “although normal amounts of coffee shouldn’t trigger Afib, further study may be warranted for energy drinks and excessive caffeine intake.”
  • Excessive alcohol,
  • Stress or anxiety, and
  • Poor sleep and/or sleep apnea.
Know the Treatment Options
  • Medicines to control your heart’s rhythm and rate,
  • Non-surgical procedures (i.e., electrical cardioversion and radiofrequency ablation), and
  • Surgical procedures (i.e., pacemaker, left atrial appendage closure implant (Watchman™) for non-valvular A-fib).

While other conditions can cause similar symptoms, if you experience any symptoms of A-fib, contact your doctor. If you are diagnosed with A-fib there is good news. According to the American Heart Association, “people can live long healthy and active lives with AFib. Controlling your risk factors for heart disease and stroke and knowing what can possibly trigger your AFib will help improve your long-term management of AFib.”


Article Author: Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS
Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc. Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Protection Assessment Tool.

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice. Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.