Commentary: If your heart skips a beat it could be love, but it could also be disease
Heart arrhythmias, which feel like a skipped beat or racing heart, occur when electrical impulses in the heart don’t route properly. Arrhythmias are usually temporary and harmless, but frequent heart palpitations or irregular heartbeats might be a sign of heart disease.
If you experience shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or near fainting, chest pain or discomfort suddenly or when you wouldn’t expect to feel them, you should seek medical care.
If you do have an arrhythmia, several state-of-the art treatment options can successfully protect your health. For example, the Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute at Hoag Hosptial has a medical team dedicated to correcting cardiac arrhythmias with the most advanced technology in the nation.
But none of the innovative equipment or specialized training amounts to anything, if people aren’t paying attention to warning signs in their chest.
According to the American Heart Assn., at least 2.7 million Americans are living with atrial fibrillation (or AFib), an arrhythmia that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.
Unfortunately, a third of these patients don’t understand that their conditions could be serious, and half don’t realize AFib puts them at higher risk for stroke.
With proper monitoring and treatment, people with AFib can live healthy lives with minimal intervention. In fact, the most common treatment option for AFib is medical management, a conservative approach that uses medications to control heart rhythm or heart rate. Millions of patients with AFib are treated with a combination of rate control medications, anti-arrhythmic medication, and an oral anticoagulant.
If more aggressive treatment is necessary, a well-trained cardiac team can provide a variety of therapies, procedures and minimally invasive surgical options to correct the underlying issues in the heart and possibly reduce a person’s AFib burden.
Any modern-day Romeo or Juliet can tell you that the heart is a mysterious thing. But heart disease is pretty straightforward. So, if you feel your heart skip a beat, you might be in the presence of Cupid.
Or you might need a cardiologist.
Dr. MICHAEL PANUTICH is a cardiologist at Hoag Hospital.
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