Atrial Fibrillation (AF) - An Important Controllable Condition That Most Have Not Heard Of
Screening with ECG in the elderly helps with the diagnosis of atrial fibrillation and reduces the incidence of stroke
Atrial fibrillation or Afib or AF for short is a condition where the atria of the heart (the upper two smaller heart chambers) beat irregularly. This leads to a “quivering” of the heart and a disordered rhythm (also called arrhythmia). Apart from symptoms of palpitations and light-headedness, which are not that common (most patients with AF have no symptoms), the major challenge is that of the potential complications of AF, mainly stroke.
Unfortunately, this is a condition not many have heard of, but presents as a significant problem the older you are, especially above the age of 65. Because of the disordered beating of the heart, there is an increase in the risk of clot formation inside the atrial chambers and if the clot dislodges and goes into the brain, it can cause a stroke. There is a 5 times increased risk of stroke in patients with AF and AF is the cause of 10% to 1/3rd of all strokes . Since AF is asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic most of the times, stroke is often the first clinical symptom of AF in a quarter of cases .
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