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What is chronic atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Chronic atrial fibrillation occurs when the heart beats at an irregular (and often accelerated) rate. A person might experience random incidents of atrial fibrillation; in others, the disorder may be consistent, resulting in chronic atrial fibrillation. In chronic atrial fibrillation, the upper and lower chambers beat out of sync. The flow of blood to the body is reduced as a result, causing people to experience heart palpitations, low blood pressure, weakness, and even heart failure or stroke.

Dr. George P. Heyrich, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Chronic atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm. It’s the most common arrhythmia that there is. Chronic means that you’re always in that rhythm and atrial fibrillation is when the top chambers of the heart atrium are not beating in a normal fashion. That lack of contraction of the atrium puts you at risk for blood clots that can form in the top chamber of the heart. They can break off and migrate to the brain and cause a stroke.

One of the risks of atrial fibrillation is stroke and that’s why we use blood thinners. There are new devices we have for people who cannot take blood thinners to eliminate the risk of clots forming in the top chamber of the heart. The one that was approved recently by the FDA is called the WATCHMAN. It’s placed in the left atrial appendage and can eliminate the area where clots can form.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.