Are Heart Palpitations and Afib the Same?
by N J Howell
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Heart palpitations can be brought on by a wide range of things. Stress, caffeine and menopause are just three factors that can cause the heart to beat irregularly or get out of rhythm. However, atrial fibrillation is a more serious concern than heart palpitations, assuming the palpitations can be traced back to some health condition such as the factors mentioned above. A person diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or afib for short, is at greater risk for stroke or heart attack than a person who just has occasional heart palpitations.
Should you see a doctor if you suspect afib?
I would certainly suggest medical testing and evaluation if you feel you are experiencing irregular heartbeats. Medical testing by your cardiologist may rule out other factors and help determine if you truly have arrythmia (quite simply, an abnormal heart rhythm) or if your heart palpitations have a cause that can be treated to restore balance.
For example, if menopausal, your doctor may be able to suggest treatments to help with hormonal fluxes. Hopefully, you have chosen a doctor open to progressive medicine for menopause, in the vein of the research done by the likes of Christiane Northrup. I'd suggest reading her books on menopause and maybe even taking one into the office with you..
If you are stressed out, then stress reduction exercises may help. If you are drinking too much coffee, cokes or other caffiene-containing beverages, cutting back may help restore balance.
There has been a recent breakthrough in testing for afib. A company called Lifeline Screening now offers a completely out-patient and inexpensive test for afib. This company travels all over the place, setting up in small town churches or public buildings, for the purpose of offering valuable medical testing at a fraction of the cost of having those same tests done in a hospital.
More information on atrial fibrillation and Lifeline Screening Services.
More on what causes heart palpitations
When are you at greater risk for afib?
There are certain pre-existing conditions that indicate not taking chances with heart palpitations. Age is a factor, in and of itself, when it comes to developing afib. If you are over the age of 65 and start experiencing heart palpitations, it is important to rule out atrial fibrillation. Also, pre-existing conditions including known heart disease, alcohol abuse or a history of afib in your family increase your risk of developing this condition. Some other health conditions that may increase risk of afib include sleep apnea and thyroid conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of these pre-existing conditions and are having irregular heartbeat.
Cardiovascular Health Disclaimer: As mentioned above, if you are having heart palpitations it is better to rule out afib than to assume there is no life-threatening situation. This information is provided as an educational resource and you are not being advised to replace any personally required medical care.