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AFIB Affects a Growing Number of Baby Boomers

October 03, 2012

What Nashville residents should know about risk, symptoms and treatment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (October 3, 2012) Atrial fibrillation, commonly referred to as AFIB, is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm treated by physicians. A less-known heart condition to most, it has serious implications for the patient including increased risk of stroke and heart failure.

“When an arrhythmia like AFIB occurs, the electrical activity of the patient’s heart becomes disorganized,” explains Gregory Bashian, M.D., cardiac electrophysiologist at TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center in Nashville, Tenn. “AFIB can severely impact a patient’s daily routine and, over time, cause damage to the heart.”

As the Baby Boomer Generation is aging, AFIB is among the heart conditions that cardiologists like Bashian are concerned about negatively impacting mature adult health. He has seen an increase in the number of diagnosed cases of AFIB in Nashville and Middle Tennessee in his patients over recent years. Many more cases are thought to go undiagnosed because people aren’t aware of the condition and the serious health consequences.

“Today, about 3 million people have been diagnosed with AFIB. We anticipate that number to continue rising over the next decade,” he said. “The good news is that treatments for AFIB are rapidly advancing. Anyone who believes they may be experiencing symptoms of AFIB should schedule an appointment with their physician or cardiologist.”

Symptoms related to AFIB vary from mild to severe, while some people may not notice any symptoms. Common symptoms include an irregular or rapid heartbeat, a racing feeling in the chest, a pounding feeling in the chest, pain or pressure in the chest, dizziness or lightheadedness, sweating, extreme fatigue or weakness, shortness of breath, and exercise intolerance.

Risk factors include age, a family history of atrial fibrillation, cardiovascular or lung diseases, and chronic health conditions. Certain lifestyle factors including stress, stimulant drugs like caffeine, smoking, and alcohol abuse also increase the risk of developing AFIB.

“Heart patients suffering from atrial fibrillation have more treatment options than ever with a goal of regaining a regular heart rhythm and improving long-term outcomes,” said Bashian. “The most important thing is not to ignore the symptoms and to visit your doctor right away. The sooner you receive treatment, the greater your chances of regaining a regular heart rhythm.”

Most patients with atrial fibrillation can benefit from a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and ablation procedures to restore normal heart rhythm. For patients still experiencing AFIB after an ablation or who have structural heart disease, a new procedure called an nContact hybrid ablation is an alternative treatment option now available at TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center.

For more information on AFIB treatment options and other cardiovascular services at the TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center, visit TriStarHealth.com and select TriStar Centennial Medical Center or call TriStar MedLine® at (615) 342-1919.

Celebrating 44 years of providing quality healthcare to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and the surrounding region, TriStar Centennial Medical Center is a 657-bed comprehensive facility offering medical and surgical programs including behavioral health, 24-hour emergency, heart and vascular, imaging, neurosciences, oncology, orthopaedics, pediatrics, rehabilitation, sleep disorder, and women’s services. An affiliate of TriStar Health, TriStar Centennial Medical Center is home to TriStar Centennial Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, TriStar Centennial Women’s & Children’s, TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center as well as TriStar Centennial Parthenon Pavilion, one of the oldest and largest full-service psychiatric facilities in the region. Round-the-clock care is also available at TriStar Ashland City, a critical access hospital in nearby Cheatham County. The new TriStar Emergency Room located in Spring Hill will provide 24-hour emergency care for nearby Spring Hill, Tenn., and surrounding communities when it opens in 2013. For more information about the services offered and health plans accepted by TriStar Centennial Medical Center or TriStar Health, call TriStar MedLine® at (615) 342-1919 or (800) 242-5662, or visit TriStarHealth.com and choose TriStar Centennial Medical Center. TriStar Centennial Medical Center is located at 2300 Patterson Street in Nashville.

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