Atrial Fibrillation Projections

We’ve written quite a bit about your heart’s health this year, because what could happen when your heart is not healthy can be quite scary.

According to a recent article in Reuters Health, “If current trends continue, the number of Americans who experience a dangerous irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation (AF) will more than double in the next 16 years, according to a new study. In 2010, some five million U.S. adults had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or AF, but the study projects about 12 million cases by the year 2030…One in four adults over the age of 40 will experience AF at some point,” said Dr. Jonathan Piccini, who studies the evaluation and management of atrial fibrillation at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, but who was not involved in the new study.

Atrial Fibrillation Rising in the US

“That represents an average annual growth rate of 4.6 percent in the number of people with AF. Irregular heartbeats are most common among older people, but the projected growth in cases would result from aging as well as increases in risk factors for AF, including obesity and diabetes, the authors write. The irregular, usually very fast, heartbeat can cause painful palpitations, limit the ability to exercise or lead to heart failure,” said study coauthor Dr. Daniel Singer, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“‘Even AF patients without symptoms are at five-fold increased risk of stroke, which often leads to major disability or death,’ he said. Overall, 15 percent of strokes in the U.S. are a result of AF, according to Singer.”

“More atrial fibrillation in the population is not a good thing,” Piccini said. “It means more heart failure, more strokes and higher mortality.”

The Treatment and Prevention of Atrial Fibrillation

“The condition can be treated with blood thinning medications…surgeries and lifestyle changes, depending on how often symptoms arise. To lower the risk of developing AF, especially older adults should ‘make sure they get good preventive health care, including diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, diabetes or sleep apnea,’ Piccini said. ‘Maintaining a healthy body weight and active lifestyle are also important.'”

Do you have experience with AF?

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Image courtesy of taoty / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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