Know what to look for and when to speak up
The warning signs of atrial fibrillation can range from a minor fluttering feeling in the chest, to a full-on fainting episode.
According to Gillis, some people first notice a problem during physical activity. They can’t handle a flight of stairs without losing their breath, or they aren’t able to make it through their usual 40-minute spin class without having to stop.
The tricky thing about atrial fibrillation is that it can be hard to explain. “People often have a difficult time describing their symptoms. They know that something’s not quite right, they don’t feel well, but they can’t define it,” says Gillis.
Especially when it comes to your heart, it’s important to resist the urge to shrug off a seemingly minor symptom.
“Caregivers (and women, in particular) tend to underestimate the symptoms related to heart disease,” Gillis says, “They focus so much on the senior that the end up trivializing their own health.”
Because the symptoms of atrial fibrillation can be varied and vague, Gillis urges those with concerning symptoms to speak up and address their concerns with their doctor.
Getting diagnosed is the first step towards gaining access to the variety of treatments, both surgical and non-surgical (prescription medications), available to help manage irregular heart rhythms and their potential complications.
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