Atrial fibrillation patient rehabilitation program


What Is Atrial Fibrillation

Under normal circumstances, your heart contracts and relaxes to a normal beat. Some cells in the heart produce electrical signals that cause the heart to contract and supply blood. Our monitor captures these electrical signals and connects them to our equipment through electrodes connected to your chest.

The resulting captured electrical signal is displayed on an electrocardiogram, electrocardiogram or electrocardiogram.

This is a painless, non-invasive procedure for recording cardiac electrical activity that can help diagnose arrhythmias.


Arrhythmia typedefinitionsymptom
Arrhythmia type In the atrial flutter, your heart's upper chamber (atrium) beats too fast. This causes the heart to beat at a fast, regular rhythm. If left untreated, atrial flutter (AFL) can also cause another type of arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation. Some people do not have the symptoms of atrial flutter. Others describe the following symptoms: palpitations (accelerated heartbeat or throbbing of the chest). There is a feeling of swaying in the chest, shortness of breath, anxiety.
Atrial fibrillation Atrial fibrillation is atrial fibrillation or atrial fibrillation. This is an irregular and often very fast heart rate that usually results in poor blood flow to the body. Although this condition is not considered fatal, people with atrial fibrillation may develop a thrombus and stroke five to seven times. Symptoms that may occur suddenly or suddenly stop may include: Heart palpitations, this is a kind of uncomfortable feeling of racing, irregular heartbeat or trigger in your chest, dizziness, confusion, shortness of breath, chest pain

Left is the normal cardiac cycle, right is the atrial fibrillation cycle


Complications Of Atrial Fibrillation



What Are the Warning Signs of Fibrillation

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America today. It’s also a major cause of severe, long-term disability. People over 55 years old have more chance of stroke, and the risk gets greater as you get older. Men,African Americans and people with diabetes or heart disease are the most at risk for stroke. About 7 million people who have had strokes are alive today.

To protect yourself and your loved ones from the serious effects of stroke, you should:

  • Learn your risk factors.
  • Reduce your risk factors.
  • Learn the warning signs of stroke.
  • Know what to do if you notice warning signs.Knowing the signs of stroke is important. If you act fast and go to a hospital right away, you could reduce the effects of a stroke or save your life!You and your family should learn the warning signs of stroke that are listed below. You may have some or all of them:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause


How does stroke happen?

A stroke happens when a blood vessel that feeds the brain gets blocked (ischemic stroke) or bursts(hemorrhagic stroke). Then that part of the brain can’t work, and neither can the part of the body it controls.

TIAs, or transient ischemic attacks, are “warning strokes” that can happen before a major stroke. They happen when a blood clot clogs an artery for a short time. The signs of a TIA are like a stroke, but they usually last only a few minutes. If you have any of these signs, get to a hospital right away!

Uncontrolled high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking and heart disease put you at a higher risk for stroke.

What should I do if I suspect a stroke?

Call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical services (EMS) in your area (fire department or ambulance) immediately.

It’s important to get to a hospital right away. Also, check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared. It’s very important to take immediate action.

If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce longterm disability for the most common type of stroke.

How can I help prevent stroke?

You could save your life or save yourself from being disabled by stroke if you do these things:

  • Don’t smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Treat high blood pressure, if you have it.
  • Eat a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and salt.
  • Be physically active.
  • Keep your weight under control.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders for taking medicine.
  • Control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
  • Get regular medical check-ups.


What Are Anticoagulants and Antiplatelet Agents?

Anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents are medicines that reduce blood clotting in an artery, a vein or the heart.

Clots can block the blood flow to your heart muscle and cause a heart attack.

They can also block blood flow to your brain, causing a stroke.


What should I know about anticoagulants?

Anticoagulants are drugs that are given to prevent your blood from clotting or prevent existing clots from getting larger.

They can keep harmful clots from forming in your heart, veins or arteries.

Clots can block blood flow and cause a heart attack or stroke.

  • Common names for anticoagulants are “warfarin” and “heparin.”
  • You must take anticoagulants just the way your doctor tells you.
  • Regular blood tests tell your doctor how the anticoagulants are working.
  • You must tell other doctors and dentists that you're taking anticoagulants.
  • Ask your doctor before taking anything else — such as vitamins, cold medicine, sleeping pills or antibiotics.These can make anticoagulants stronger or weaker,which can be dangerous.
  • Tell your family how you take them and carry an emergency medical ID card.

Could anticoagulants cause problems?

If you do as your doctor tells you, there probably won’t be problems. But you must tell your doctor right away if:

  • Your urine turns red or dark brown.
  • Your stools turn red, dark brown or black.
  • You bleed more than normal when you have your period.
  • Your gums bleed.
  • You have a very bad headache or stomach pain that doesn’t go away.
  • You get sick or feel weak, faint or dizzy.
  • You think you’re pregnant.
  • You often find bruises or blood blisters.
  • You have an accident of any kind.

What should I know about antiplatelet agents?

These drugs, such as aspirin, keep blood clots from forming. Many doctors now prescribe aspirin to heart patients for this reason.Aspirin can save your life if you have heart problems.You don’t need a prescription to get it, but it’s just as important as any other medicine your doctor tells you to take. You must use it just as you’re told.


  • Helps keep blood from clotting.
  • Has been shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack,stroke or TIA.
  • Should not be taken with anticoagulants unless your doctor tells you to.
  • M ust be used as your doctor orders — most often in smal l doses every day or every other day if you already have cardiovascular disease (CVD) or are at high risk for CVD.
  • Might not be taken while you’re having surgery.





FAQs of Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF)

The Condition

What is AFib?

It’s a heart condition in which the upper chambers of the heart (called the atria) beat too rapidly and cause the lower chambers of the heart (called the ventricles) to pump the blood abnormally and ineffectively throughout the body.

How did I get AFib?

Some possible risk factors for AFib are: advanced age, heart disease (prior heart attack or heart failure), high blood pressure, diabetes, excessive alcohol drinking, smoking, obesity, sleep apnea, persons with heart valve problems and/or other chronic medical or heart related problems. Some studies support the theory of heredity.

Can I have AFib and not know it?

Yes, some people never have symptoms and they are diagnosed by a physical exam and an EKG/ECG.

Who has a higher incidence of AFib – men or women?

More men than women are diagnosed with AFib but women have a higher rate of stroke-related deaths.

Risks & Symptoms

Is AFib a medical emergency?

In certain cases, medical intervention may be needed to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. This may involve electrocardioversion or medications to control rate and rhythm. In any case, you must see a doctor if you are having symptoms.

What are the greatest risks of having AFib?

The greatest risk of AFib is stroke. You are 5 times more likely to have a stroke than someone who doesn’t have atrial fibrillation. You also have a risk of eventual heart failure due to the weakening of the heart muscle.

What are the symptoms of stroke?

Since stroke is a potential risk factor in those who have AFib, you need to know the symptoms. F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1. Other signs of stroke include: severe headache, dizziness, loss of balance, or trouble walking, confusion or trouble speaking/understanding, numbness or weakness on one side of the body or face, blurry or darkened vision. Call 9-1-1 if these symptoms occur.


Can I live a long life with AFib?

Yes, some people can live very healthy and active lives. Controlling your risk factors for heart disease and stroke and knowing what can possibly trigger your AFib will help improve your long-term tolerance. Follow your doctor’s orders and stay on your current treatment path.

Is AFib curable or is it a permanent condition?

We don’t usually say that AFib is curable, but we do know that there are reversible causes for AFib, and if those causes are treated, the AFib may not return. AFib, regardless of the duration, needs to be monitored by a physician. AFib is mostly preventable, or treating the underlying cause sometimes prevents AFib from reoccurring. There are different forms of AFib (paroxysmal, persistent and longstanding); each one with variations in prognosis and treatment plan. Sometimes the symptoms are continual and occasionally the symptoms go away on their own. Again, all those who experience AFib will need regular check-ups on the condition.

Can I die from an episode of AFib?

Generally, no. You can die from complications that result from having AFib, however. Two risks that persons with atrial fibrillation face are the possibility of having a stroke or heart failure. This answer, however, is assuming that you have no other underlying heart conditions. The most important thing you can do is to work with your doctor or other healthcare provider to make sure that you are doing all you can to prevent any complications that could occur as a result of having AFib.

What is the difference between AFib and a heart attack?

A heart attack is an interruption in blood flow to the heart which results in tissue damage to the heart. This is an emergency situation and you need to call 911 immediately. Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal rhythm of the heart which results in ineffective blood flow to the body. The symptoms of a heart attack are: chest discomfort that can be described as “pressure, sharp pain, heaviness.” The pain can travel down your arms, up into your jaw area or into your back or stomach. The pain can be mild or severe. It can also come and go. It can be accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or confusion.

Now that I have atrial fibrillation, what do I do next?

When do I see my doctor?

As soon as you notice the symptoms of AFib (fatigue, heart fluttering or pounding, fainting or dizziness, shortness of breath, anxiety), you need to contact your physician. Even if your symptoms go away, you still need to have a physical exam.

What is the difference between a cardiologist and an electrophysiologist?

An electrophysiologist is a cardiologist that specializes in the study of the electrical activities of the heart. They have completed two more years of fellowship beyond a general cardiology fellowship. They are trained to perform interventional cardiac electrophysiology studies and surgical device implantations.

Living with AFib

Am I able to have sex or exercise?

Yes, as long as you are cleared by your physician, you are able to perform any normal activities of daily living that you are able to tolerate.

Can I drive my car?

Yes. However, some people experience dizziness or even fainting with their AFib episodes. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, you need to pull over to the side of the road and stop. Discuss with your doctor whether you should alert your healthcare provider during an episode, and how to know if and when your AFib symptoms mean you should call 911.

Should I wear a medical alert bracelet or carry a card in my wallet?

In any emergency situation, having a patient’s medical history is very helpful. Be sure and write down the medication that you are taking and the dose. If you are taking oral anticoagulant medications (“blood thinners”), you should always wear a medical alert bracelet so that people know you may bleed easier than usual.

Can I tell when I’m going to have an episode of AFib?

Most of the time, no, but you can control your “triggers”. In some people, different things cause their AFib to flare up. Caffeine, alcohol, stress, getting up in the middle of the night after being fully asleep, eating MSG, the heart rate increase that occurs during exercise…..these are all common “triggers” that might lead to an episode.

AFib Medications

What medicines will I be on and how do they work?

Medication is most often prescribed to control heart rate and rhythm. It is also prescribed to prevent or treat current blood clots. You could be on medicine from other underlying conditions. Your doctor will need to know the current meds you are taking so your new meds will not interfere. Some medications your doctor might prescribe for you are:

  • Beta blockers – these are used to slow the heart rate and widen vessels to increase blood flow
  • Calcium channel blockers – these are also used to slow the heart rate and widen vessels to increase blood flow
  • Digoxin – this medication slows the rate at which electrical currents are conducted from the atria to the ventricle
  • Anticoagulants or antiplatelets – drugs such as these are given to patients to reduce the risk for blood clot formation or to treat an existing blood clot.

What is the difference between an anticoagulant and an antiplatelet medication?

Both anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents are medicines that reduce blood clotting in an artery, a vein or the heart.

  • Anticoagulants are also used to treat existing blood clots in the heart. Regular blood tests tell your doctor how the anticoagulants are working. Never take aspirin with anticoagulants unless you talk with your doctor first. Common names for anticoagulants are warfarin, dabigitran, apixaban or rivoraxaban. These are the most commonly prescribed medications for prevention of stroke in atrial fibrillation.
  • Antiplatelets keep clots from forming. They have also been shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. It is important to check with your doctor before taking other medications while on antiplatelets. An example of this type of medicine is aspirin. Aspirin is recommended for only certain persons with atrial fibrillation.

What side effects do anticoagulants and antiplatelets have?

A risk of bleeding is associated with anticoagulants. Here are some things to watch for or report to your physician:

  • If you have an accident of any kind
  • If you often find bruises or blood blisters
  • If you feel sick, weak, faint or dizzy.
  • If you think you are pregnant
  • If you notice red, dark brown or black urine or stools
  • If you bleed more with periods
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad headache or stomach ache that won’t go away
  • Bowel changes or GI irritability
  • Antiplatelets also present the risk of bleeding. Even though aspirin can be purchased over the counter, it is important that you do not take more than the dose prescribed by your doctor. Report any of the symptoms stated above to your physician.

I have questions about procedures used to treat atrial fibrillation.

What is a good resource? Always check with your physician first if you have questions.