Understanding Atrial Fibrillation



Understanding Atrial Fibrillation

Dr. Sanjay Gupta sits down with a leading expert on cardiac arrhythmias, Dr. Vivek Reddy of Mt. Sinai Hospital.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Sanjay Gupta, MD, Everyday Health:What is atrial fibrillation?

Vivek Reddy, MD, Cardiologist, Mount Sinai Hospital:Well, atrial fibrillation is a type of abnormal heartbeat. What happens is the top chambers of the heart are beating irregularly. Think about a pool of water.  If you dip your finger slowly, you have concentric wavelets. That’s regular rhythm. But if you dip it very, very fast, you have a big old mess, and that’s what happens in atrial fibrillation.

Dr. Gupta:That’s a good analogy. Are there people who are more at risk? Is there a genetic test, or does family history play a role?

Dr. Reddy:Genetics plays an extremely important role. Having said that, there are no genetic tests at this point. There is probably more than one gene that causes atrial fibrillation. But the fact is, atrial fibrillation is very common. One in four individuals will actually develop atrial fibrillation in their lifetime. So this is a pretty common disease.

Dr. Gupta:You hear people often describing it as a fluttering in the chest or butterflies in the chest. At that point is it dangerous? What should someone do if they experience that?

Dr. Reddy:If you have an abnormal heartbeat, there are multiple reasons why this could happen. It could be something like atrial fibrillation, or it could be something quite benign. So I think the important thing for individuals is to see their physician so they can understand exactly what this is.

Dr. Gupta:Can you walk around with this disease and not know it, or do you always have symptoms?

Dr. Reddy:It’s a good question, and you’re absolutely right. You absolutely can walk around with it and not know it. Not everybody with atrial fibrillation has symptoms. Some people have no symptoms. But even if you have no symptoms, you’re still at increased risk for stroke.

Dr. Gupta:Dr. Vivek Reddy, thank you so much, I really appreciate your time.

Dr. Reddy:Thank you very much, Sanjay.

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Date: 12.12.2018, 12:00 / Views: 35344