AFib is the most common form of heart arrhythmia, meaning the heart is not beating normally. The cause of AFib varies, but it can be a symptom of a bigger problem like a heart attack or viral infection. Understanding the how’s and why’s of AFib can be important to your health. The Atrial Fibrillation Clinic in Anderson can help.
AFib Services Anderson Offered at AnMed Health’s Atrial Fibrillation Clinic
The AFib Clinic at AnMed Health offers unique benefits and services that go above and beyond what you might get elsewhere.
At the AFib Clinic in Anderson, you can expect:
- An appointment three days after your release from the hospital — The faster you get assessment and treatment, the better. AnMed Health ensures you can be seen quickly by an AFib specialist.
- Comprehensive physical exam - A physical allows them to access your overall physical health and cardiac health. They can look for underlying conditions that might be a contributing factor to your AFib and develop a treatment plan that is individualized to your needs.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) - An ECG records the electrical signals from the heart. It allows the care team to access any abnormal heart rhythm and determine the effectiveness of treatments.
- Education - The more you know about your condition, the better. The staff at AnMed Health’s Atrial Fibrillation Clinic will be there to help you understand AFib and how it can affect your health and life. They will go over tests with you and walk you through any procedures, including the potential risks. The goal is to help you make informed decisions that affect your heart health.
- Referral for specialists and treatments - If you need to see someone outside the clinic for one of the procedures or tests to treat your AFib, the staff will provide you with the necessary information and referrals.
- Ongoing follow-up - It is important to monitor your heart health condition to ensure the treatment or therapies are effective. AnMed Health’s Atrial Fibrillation Clinic offers follow-ups for treatment, so you know you are getting comprehensive care.
AFib can be a frightening condition, but, in most cases, it is a manageable one. It’s important not just to get treatment, but to get the right kind. AnMed Health’s atrial fibrillation services Anderson offers is a dedicated treatment environment. The staff have vast experience in this condition and are well-equipped to provide you with the care you need to reduce the risks that come with it. They can also work with you to determine if there is an underlying cause for your arrhythmia.
By getting quick and effective care, you reduce your risk of developing life-threatening illnesses. Untreated AFib puts you at risk for stroke, heart failure, heart-related complications, and blood clots.
If you are a resident of South Caroline or northeast Georgia and have been diagnosed with AFib, we can help. Give us a call today to set up an appointment in the AnMed Health’s Atrial Fibrillation Clinic.
What is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib)?
AFib is an abnormal heart rhythm. Most people understand that the heart pumps blood, but it’s a more complex process than you might realize. The human heart consists of four chambers, two on each side. The top chambers are the atria, and the bottom chambers are the ventricles. These four chambers make up two separate pumping systems that both pull blood into the heart and send it back out through the body.
The right side of the heart pushes blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. Once oxygenated, it is pulled back into the left side of the heart. That side then sends the oxygen-rich blood to the body. That blood takes oxygen to every area from head to toe.
Electric signals control these two pumps, so they beat in a regular rhythm. Those signals are sent from the pacemaker cells in the sinoatrial(SA) node, sometimes called the natural pacemaker.
With normal rhythm, the top two chambers work together and coordinate with the lower chambers. When a person has AFib, the top two chambers (the atria) beat chaotically and out of coordination with each other in the lower chambers. That can make your pulse fast and out of sync. AFib is challenging because it involves different areas of the heart as they receive electrical signals that trigger the pumps.
Having AFib can increase your risk for:
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Heart-related complications
While AFib itself is not life-threatening, it puts you at risk for conditions that can cause death.
What are the Symptoms of AFib?
The symptoms can vary from person-to-person and even from episode-to-episode. Some people have no symptoms that they notice on their own. AFib is something often discovered during an annual physical.
Those that do experience symptoms may feel:
- Short of breath
- Chest pain
- A sense that your heart is racing or beating wrong
People experience these symptoms at various lengths of time. AFib is categorized as:
- Occasional - The symptoms come and go lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. They may go away and never return or require treatment to manage.
- Persistent - Persistent AFib means the heart stays in that state where it is not beating right. Medical professionals might use electric shock or drug therapy to restore the normal rhythm to correct the problem.
- Long-standing persistent - Continuous AFib that lasts more than 12 months
- Permanent - The heart rhythm cannot be stored. Medical intervention is necessary to control the heart rate and to prevent blood clots.
What Can Trigger AFib?
There are a variety of situations that can lead to AFib. You can break them down into triggers, medical conditions, and risk factors. Triggers are things people do that can cause this type of arrhythmia.
AFib triggers include:
- Drinking alcohol in excess
- Binge drinking - lots of alcohol in a short time
- Excess caffeine from tea, coffee, or energy drinks
- Illegal drugs, especially amphetamines or cocaine
AFib may also be a complication of a medical condition, such as:
- Damage to the structure of the heart -- one of the most common causes of AFib
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart attack
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart valve abnormalities or disease
- Overactive thyroid or other metabolic imbalance
- Sick sinus syndrome - malfunction of the heart’s pacemaker
- Lung diseases
- Heart surgery
- Viral infection
- Stress from an illness or medical procedure
- Sleep apnea
Risk factors are issues that make AFib more likely, such as:
- Age - The older someone is, the greater their risk
- Chronic conditions like diabetes or kidney disease
- Genetics — AFib can run in families
Any of these situations may lead to AFib.
Who Should Visit AnMed Health’s AFib Clinic Anderson?
AnMed Health’s AFib Clinic is for anyone who is newly diagnosed with this condition or who has had it for years. Once arrived at the clinic, patients work with a care team of medical professionals who specialize in treating AFib.
The clinic staff will take a detailed history, and a healthcare professional will conduct a physical exam. A series of tests allow the care team to better understand each patient’s condition and cardiac health.
Testing can include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) - An ECG test uses electrodes on your chest and arms to record the electrical signals that go through the heart. The test helps pinpoint key changes in rhythm. It is a diagnostic tool used to determine the extent of the problem and the possible cause.
- Echocardiogram - An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create a picture of your heart while moving to see how it moves. The technician uses a wand-like device, a transducer, to obtain the moving image. In some cases, a tube goes down the throat to enhance the imaging process. Echocardiograms are essential to see the heart's structure and pinpoint any possible blood clots that might lead to a stroke or heart attack.
- Stress Echocardiogram - A stress echocardiogram gets moving images of the heart while you are active. It typically involves you walking or jogging on a treadmill during the test.
- Lab tests - Blood tests can help the care team diagnose problems that might be causing the AFib, such as overactive thyroid.
The expert medical staff will go over the results of the test with you and determine what the next steps should include.
AFib Treatment Options
Many factors influence your Afib treatment in Anderson, such as how long the patient has had AFib and how often it occurs. They may focus on triggers like underlying conditions, as well. AnMed Health offers a variety of treatment options for AFib, including:
- Atrial fibrillation ablations - This procedure requires a physician to insert a catheter, which is a long, thin tube into that groin. The tube goes up through the vessel until it reaches the heart. The doctor will then use either radiofrequency energy, extreme cold, or heat to damaged areas of the heart that might be causing the arrhythmia. When scar tissue forms over those areas, it can help restore normal rhythm.
- Watchman procedures - Watchman refers to an implanted device that can help reduce your risk of blood clots. During this procedure, the physician inserts a catheter into the groin and moves it up through the veins to just past the heart. They use this catheter to place the Watchman device. It is about the size of a quarter and keeps blood clots from leaving the left atrial appendage and entering the heart. The left atrial appendage is a small sac in the upper left chamber of the heart. This procedure is only for AFib that is not related to a heart valve problem.
- Implantation of devices that help control heart rhythm - These devices can include a pacemaker, which generates electrical pulses that control how the chambers of the heart contract, a cardiac defibrillator to shock the heart into a normal rhythm, or a cardiac resynchronization device to coordinate the chambers.
- Comprehensive diagnostic electrical studies - These can help the care team understand the nature of the AFIb and determine how best to treat it. Doctors guide specialized catheters into the heart and conduct tests to change the rhythm. This allows for mapping the heart to pinpoint what areas might cause the arrhythmia. The procedure can take anywhere from one to four hours to complete.
- Cardioversions - Cardioversions involves using electrical shock to restore the normal heart rhythm.
- Tilt-table tests - A tilt test involves trying to recreate an environment that might be causing dizziness or an arrhythmia. The care team monitors the heart rhythm, and blood pressure as the patient lies on a table that can tilt.
A combination of advanced testing and therapies can help control the AFib and reduce the risk of complications from it.
Why AnMed Health?
The Atrial Fibrillation Clinic at AnMed Health provides a comprehensive treatment plan for atrial fibrillation. For more than 100 years, AnMed Health has been providing healthcare services to the people of South Carolina and Georgia. In addition to quality healthcare, AnHealth is the largest employer in Anderson County. The staff includes more than 400 physicians and over 3,600 employees.
AnMed Health is providing a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to AFib treatment in Anderson. By offering patients a dedicated clinic, AnMed Health can provide a multidisciplinary team of specialists that can help patients through what can be a confusing and frustrating medical condition. The expert clinicians at the Atrial Fibrillation Anderson Clinic at AnMed Health will deal with both the physical aspects of AFib and the emotional toll it can take on the quality of people’s lives.