Atrial Fibrillation

Ibrahim Helmy, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.P.

Cardiologist & Electrophysiologist located in Los Angeles, CA & Torrance, CA

If your heartbeat flutters or quivers, atrial fibrillation (AFib) may be the culprit, which elevates your risk of stroke or heart failure. At his practice offices in Los Angeles and Torrance, California, board-certified cardiologist and electrophysiologist Ibrahim Helmy, MD, FACC, FACP, diagnoses and treats AFib with a focus on addressing its underlying causes. To schedule an appointment to check your heart health, call or click today.

Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Q & A

What is atrial fibrillation (AFib)?

AFib is a type of abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) that causes an irregular rhythm. When you have AFib, you may feel your heart quivering, fluttering, thumping, or skipping beats. AFib also causes dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

The abnormal heart rhythm resulting from AFib means your heart’s two upper chambers, the atria, beat irregularly and are out of sync with the lower chambers, the ventricles. That means your heart isn’t efficiently pumping blood around the body, which can cause blood to pool and form clots, which places you at an elevated risk of a stroke.

Not everyone with AFib has symptoms or notices their heart’s abnormal rhythm. You may experience AFib only occasionally, for a few minutes to a few hours at a time, or you may have continuous symptoms.

Though the arrhythmia resulting from AFib isn’t itself dangerous, the potential for complications, especially stroke and heart failure, means the condition is a serious medical concern requiring treatment and close supervision. Even if you don’t experience symptoms from your AFib, you may still be at risk for developing these complications.

What are the risk factors for developing AFib?

AFib affects people of all ages, though it’s most common among adults ages 60 and older. Other risk factors for AFib include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Past heart attacks
  • Sleep apnea
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • A family history of the condition

Though AFib is often a sign of a serious heart condition or heart defect, some people have AFib by itself. If you don’t have any other heart conditions accompanying your AFib, you’re unlikely to develop complications.

How is AFib treated?

Treatment for AFib depends on the underlying cause, how long you’ve had AFib, and how much your symptoms are bothering you. Often, effectively treating conditions like an overactive thyroid or sleep apnea will make AFib go away. In mild cases, cutting down on how much caffeine or alcohol you drink may be enough.

In other cases, you may require medication or an in-office procedure to regulate your heart rhythm, prevent blood clots, and lower the risk of stroke. Procedures for AFib include electrical cardioversion, which uses electricity to “reset” your heart, and catheter ablation, which scars targeted spots of heart tissue that are responsible for sending erratic electrical signals.

To learn more about treatment options for AFib, call the offices of Dr. Helmy in Los Angeles and Torrance, California, today or schedule an appointment online.