Living with Atrial Fibrillation – Diagnosis and Treatment

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 1, 2015

It is important to treat atrial fibrillation, because the condition can worsen over time.

Are you or a family member one of the two million Americans living with atrial fibrillation? Atrial fibrillation (AFib, AF) is an abnormal heart rhythm that causes the upper chambers of the heart to beat in a rapid, irregular pattern. Seeking AFib treatment is important, as the condition can progress over time. Untreated, AFib can lead to an increased risk of stroke or heart failure.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation can include palpitations, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Although the exact cause of AFib is not completely understood, it often is associated with increased age, sleep apnea, surgery, and a number of heart ailments, including hypertension, valvular heart disease, heart failure,  or congenital heart disease. AFib treatment typically  includes medication or ablation therapy.

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New Heart Device May Save and Extend Lives

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 8, 2013

Anthony Andrews (36) believes that a new device, called a subcutaneous implantable defibrillator, will give him a chance at a longer life.

At 36 years old, Anthony Andrews has struggled with health problems for most of his adult life. Currently on dialysis for kidney failure, Andrews also has a complex family history of heart disease, as well as vascular issues. As a result, Andrews has had no options for a life-saving intervention should a cardiac emergency occur – until now.

In November 2012, he became the first person in New England to receive a new type of heart defibrillator, or ICD, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration just two months ago.

The cardiac device, called a subcutaneous implantable defibrillator (S-ICD), is implanted under the skin and delivers an electric shock to the heart to treat an abnormally rapid heartbeat. Unlike a traditional ICD, which involves one or more insulated wires that run from the device through a patient’s vein to the lower chamber of the heart, the S-ICD does not require access to a patient’s heart or blood vessels.

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