(NewsUSA) – By 2030, an estimated 12.1 million Americans will experience a common heart condition called atrial fibrillation (AFib), sometimes felt as an irregular or fluttering heartbeat. (CDC) Even the most active individuals from bodybuilders to Olympians and nationally-ranked athletes can experience AFib. AFib can worsen if not promptly treated, but working with your physician to correctly diagnose and treat it can help you get back to active living.
For Candice Donahoe, a former NCAA Division I tennis player, avid golfer, and runner, her critical AFib warning sign was when she collapsed during a half-marathon and was initially diagnosed with dehydration. After being evaluated by her electrophysiologist – a doctor who specializes in the heart’s electrical system – she was diagnosed with AFib and atrial flutter and treated with cardiac ablation, a procedure using heat or cold to create tiny scars in the heart to restore a regular heartbeat. To monitor her heart continuously, Candice’s doctor recommended the Medtronic Reveal LINQ™ Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM), a small heart monitor placed under the skin on the chest to better understand her AFib episodes and what could be triggering them. From there, her care team was able to pinpoint that she was experiencing AFib during physical activity in the heat. Candice has now found new ways to exercise while managing her AFib.
After overcoming many addictions and turning his life around, Tim Berry, a competitive bodybuilder suffered a heart attack and later was diagnosed with AFib. His heart rate would spike tremendously during exercise, and he noticed a physical strain and mental strain that made day-to-day life very challenging. After his AFib diagnosis, his doctors identified him as a good candidate for a minimally invasive procedure with the Arctic Front™ Cryoballoon, instead of having to take daily medication. A week after the procedure, he was back in the gym and noticed an improvement. For Tim, treating AFib early with cardiac ablation led to the best possible outcome.
“It’s important to recognize that AFib doesn’t have a standard manifestation and can present completely differently based on the individual. If you or someone close to you suspects they might have AFib, it’s important to talk to your doctor to ensure a better understanding of your symptoms and provide guidance to move forward towards diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Khaldoun Tarakji, vice president and chief medical officer of the Cardiac Ablation Solutions operating unit at Medtronic.
Navigating AFib Early
Detecting & Diagnosing
While AFib can look different from person to person, common symptoms include:
- Heart sensations, sometimes called palpitations, which may include irregular, thumping, or pounding heartbeats
- A feeling that the heart is racing
- Chest discomfort or pain
- Fainting or lightheadedness
- Fatigue, shortness of breath, or weakness
Detecting AFib can be challenging. The following tests and devices can help determine if you have AFib and give insights into your condition:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Stress test
- Longer-term monitoring devices such as the LINQ™ family of insertable cardiac monitors
Once diagnosed with AFib, treatment options include:
- Medication, known as antiarrhythmic drugs, is one form of treatment to prevent and treat irregular heart rhythms.
- Minimally invasive ablation procedure is another form of treatment, including a Medtronic FDA-approved option known as a Cryoablation.
To learn more about atrial fibrillation and find a specialist near you, visit: Medtronic.com/AFmonth
Always talk to your doctor about risks, diagnosis, and treatment information.
Possible risks associated with the implant of the LINQ™ Family ICMs include, but are not limited to, infection at the surgical site, device migration, erosion of the device through the skin and/or sensitivity to the device material. For important safety information, see: https://www.medtronic.com/us-en/patients/treatments-therapies/insertable-heart-monitors/getting-monitor/important-safety-information.html.
Risks associated with the Artic Front™ Cryoballoon may include bleeding and bruising where the catheter was inserted, cough, shortness of breath, infection, temporary or permanent stroke, severe complications leading to hospitalization or potentially death.