September 24, 2023

Cleveland Clinic raises Afib awareness

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This heart health month, leading hospital Cleveland Clinic wants to ensure that Cayman is aware of and keeping an eye out for signs and symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation (Afib).

Afib occurs when someone has a heartbeat outside of the ordinary range of 60-100 beats per minute, ranging up to highs of 175 beats per minute. This causes the heart’s electrical system to malfunction, leading to decreased blood circulation and an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. Symptoms include heart palpitations, fatigue, shortness of breath and chest discomfort or pressure.

“Afib is triggered by a misdirection of the heart’s electrical rhythm. Rapid impulses fire simultaneously, causing an irregular rhythm in the atria, or upper chambers of the heart,” says Cleveland Clinic Florida cardiology department chair and interventional cardiologist, Robert Cubeddu, MD. “Over an extended period of time, Afib can significantly weaken the heart, increase the risk for blood clots and even lead to heart failure.”

Treatments focus on regaining a normal heart rhythm, controlling heart rate and preventing blood clots to reduce the risk of stroke. These typically start with lifestyle changes and medications. However, medications may fail to restore a normal heart rate, and anticoagulants are not well-tolerated by everyone. In this case, a procedure may be necessary.

“Several innovative techniques are available, including electrical cardioversion, catheter ablation, device therapy, as well as surgical ablation,” says Jose Baez-Escudero, MD, Cleveland Clinic Florida’s head cardiac electrophysiologist. “The best option for you depends on your heart rhythm and symptoms, as well as length of time.”

Afib affects over 2 million Americans, and is responsible for about 15 percent of all strokes.

“At Cleveland Clinic we will develop an individualized plan that best meets your needs. This may include medical, interventional and surgical treatment options, all aimed at rhythm control and decreasing your risk for stroke,” says Dr. Cubeddu. “If you’ve been diagnosed with Afib, talk to your doctor about all your options, to determine what is best for you.”

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