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​Atrial fibrillation or (AF) is an irregular rapid heartbeat, a contraction of the atria.  A normal heart beats 60 to 100 times a minute.  A heart that is experiencing AF can beat as many as 350 to 400 times a minute. AF however, is a relatively common heart disorder.

The heart is made up of four chambers which include two atria and two ventricles.  When the atria beat out of rhythm, the irregular rapid contractions make it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the body.
AF affects more than 2 million people in this country a year.  AF can affect seemingly healthy individuals.  AF is also commonly associated with heart disease or other health disorders such as thyroid disease.

What does AF feel like?  Not everyone has the same symptoms.  You may have AF and not associate the major symptoms with a heart disorder.  A discomfort in the chest or chest pain can be a sign of AF.  Having heart palpitations can also be a symptom of AF.  Even a feeling of dizziness like feeling faint can be a symptom of AF.  With such a variety of symptoms and with each person experiencing different symptoms, it is necessary for one to seek the help of a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment of these symptoms.

The true danger of AF is letting it go untreated.  AF can actually increase your chances of stroke by more than five times.  Because the rapidly beating atrium cannot empty properly, blood tends to pool in the atrium and a clot can form.  If a clot breaks free, it can lodge in an artery of the brain and cut off blood flow to that area of the brain causing brain damage or even death.
AF can also be associated with heart failure such as when the heart is no longer able to pump a sufficient supply of blood to the body.
AF can be successfully managed by your physician.  One treatment is drug therapy with Coumadin® to help prevent harmful blood clots from forming in the left atrium. 

Reducing the risk of stroke through the use of Coumadin® is just one of many treatments your physician can use to manage AF.  The Coumadin Clinic at CCT can successfully help you manage AF.  If you feel you need help immediately or suddenly feel ill, call 911 for emergency help.